Multiple Modernities

Cinemas and Popular Media in Transcultural East Asia

Edited by Jenny Kwok Wah Lau
Book Cover

PB: $41.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-986-9
Publication: Dec 02

HC: $91.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-985-2
Publication: Dec 02

264 pages
7 x 10
2 figs., 17 halftones

A comprehensive book on the complex relationship between media and modernity in east Asia


Multiple Modernities explores the cultural terrain of East Asia. Arguing that becoming modern happens differently in different places, the contributors examines popular culture—most notable cinema and television—to see how modernization, as both a response to the West and as a process that is unique in its own right in the region, operates on a mass level.

Included in this collection are significant explorations of popular culture in East Asia, including Chinese new cinema and rock music, Korean cinema, Taiwanese television, as well as discussions of alternative arts in general.

While each essay focuses on specific nations or cinemas, the collected effect of reading them is to offer a comprehensive, in-depth picture of how popular culture in East Asia operates to both generate and reflect the immense change this significant region of the world is undergoing.


"Lau has managed to bring together an impressive collection of essays by both established and emerging scholars. She does an excellent job of combining new research on national cinemas that have received a decent amount of scholarly attention in the West with lesser-known Asian media cultures. The cogency of the volume is astounding. Multiple Modernities provides valuable new insights into the relationship between Asian cinema, popular culture, and issues of modernity. It adds significantly to our understanding of political cinematic culture."
Gina Marchetti, Ithaca College, and author of Romance and the "Yellow Peril": Race, Sex, and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction

"Two of the book's many merits stand out especially prominently. First it is a useful introduction to various popular media...(second,) many of the researchers are engaged in interdisciplinary analyses...and it is the scholar's responsibility to identify and discuss these various manifestations."
Senses of Cinema

"Multiple Modernities is a welcome addition to the growing scholarship in the area of contemporary Asian cultural studies."
Modern Chinese Literature and Culture

"(A)n anthology comprising of cutting-edge research by interdisciplinary scholars.... provides an enlightening insight into the relationship between Asian cinema, popular culture, and issues of modernity.
Language and Intercultural Communication (pdf; review begins on page 2)

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction – Jenny Kwok Wah Lau

Part I: States of Modernities
1. Globalization and Youthful Subculture: The Chinese Sixth-Generation Films at the Dawn of the New Century – Jenny Kwok Wah Lau
2. Marx or Market: Chinese Rock and the Sound of Fury – Jeroen de Kloet
3. Reexamining the East and the West: Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, "Orientalism," and Popular Culture – Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto
4. Stranger Than Tokyo: Space and Race in Postnational Japanese Cinema – Yomota Inuhiko, translated by Aaron Gerow
5. Discourse on Modernization in 1990s Korean Cinema – Han Ju Kwak
6. Youth in Crisis: National and Cultural Identity in New South Korean Cinema – Frances Gateward
7. The Fragmented Commonplace: Alternative Arts and Cosmopolitanism in Hong Kong – Hector Rodriguez

Part II: Postmodernism and Its Discontents
8. Immediacy, Parody, and Image in the Mirror: Is There a Postmodern Scene in Beijing? – Dai Jinhua, translated by Jing M. Wang
9. Terms of Transition: The Action Film, Postmodernism, and Issues of an East-West Perspective – Chuck Kleinhans
10. Consuming Asia: Chinese and Japanese Popular Culture and the American Imaginary – David Desser

Part III: Women in Modern Asia
11. Of Executioners and Courtesans: The Performance of Gender in Hong Kong Cinema of the 1990s – Augusta Lee Palmer and Jenny Kwok Wah Lau
12. The Woman with Broken Palm Lines: Subject, Agency, Fortune-Telling, and Women in Taiwanese Television Drama – Lin Szu-Ping

About the Contributors

About the Author(s)

Jenny Kwok Wah Lau is Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinema at San Francisco State University.