Sounding the Modern Woman: The Songstress in Chinese Cinema by Jean Ma

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Film historians have long regarded the songstress as the single most important figure in Chinese cinema between the 1930s and 1960s. Played by movie stars including Zhou Xuan周璇 (Chow Hsuen, 1918–57), Bai Guang 白光 (1921–99), Zhong Qing 鍾情 (Chung Ching, b. 1932), Yao Li 姚莉 (Yao Lee, b. 1922), and Ge Lan 葛蘭 (Grace Chang, b. 1933), these songstresses ranged from orphans of war, sex workers, temptresses, nightclub singers, and innocent country girls to the mambo girl, calypso girl, and air hostess. In Sounding the Modern Woman (2015), Jean Ma goes beyond an investigation of this emblematic figure as a trope. For her, the songstress is not only an embodiment of the filmmakers’ and spectators’ changing ideas and imaginations of modernity during this period, she is also a discursive site and medium where conflicting values, aspirations, desires, and traumatic memories were actively negotiated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalModern Chinese Literature and Culture
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Aug 2016


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