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Southeast Asia Film & Cinema: Courses & Syllabi

Australia National University: Cinema in Southeast Asia - Genre & Cultural Identities

ANU Logo Cinema in Southeast Asia: Genre and Cultural Identities is an undergraduate course offered by the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics. This course introduces students to the diverse contemporary culture and society of SEAsia as well as to cinema practices in the region. Since there is too much to cover in one semester, this survey course will focus broadly on three categories: national film histories, genres and social themes. 

Cornell University: Gender and Sexuality in Southeast Asian Cinema

Cornell Logo Gender and Sexuality in Southeast Asian Cinema examines the new cinemas of Southeast Asia and their engagement withcontemporary discourses of gender and sexuality. It pays special attention to the ways in which sexuality and gendered embodiment are at present linked to citizenship and to other forms of belonging. Focusing on globally circulating Southeast Asian films of the past 15 years, the course draws on current writings from feminism, Buddhist studies, affect theory, queer studies, postcolonial theory, and film studies to ask what new understandings of subjectivity might emerge from these cinemas and their political contexts. Films will be drawn from both mainstream and independent cinema and will include the work of directors such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Danny and Oxide Pang, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Yau Ching, Thunska Pansittivorakul, Garin Nugroho, and Jean-Jacques Annaud.

East-West Center: Using Films to Teach the History of Southeast Asia During WWII

East West Center Logo The Using Films to Teach the History of Southeast Asia in WWII module is designed to assist teachers in the use of film to teach the history of Southeast Asia.  It is designed on two levels.  The first is a general discussion of the best ways to incorporate visual materials into the teaching of history.  It demonstrates ways to help students develop the tools to “read” film critically.  There are suggestions for improving the media literacy of students in general.   The second level is a discussion of the use of film for Southeast Asian history in particular.  The film Indochine, about French colonialism in Vietnam between 1930 and 1950, is explored as a particularly useful teaching tool to develop student understanding of colonialism/imperialism, the WWII era in Southeast Asia, and the Vietnamese independence movement.

This module is based on the presentation by Gwen Johnson (Teacher, Social Studies Department, Scarsdale High School) at the East-West Center’s 2011 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute for Teachers. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this module do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the East-West Center.

Gadja Mada University: Religion & Film on Southeast Asia

Gadjah Mada Logo Religion and Film in Southeast Asia aims to look at how religion is characterized and displayed through the medium of film, and to introduce students to methods of approaching films as texts. Films will be related to their cultural contexts, as a window on the current politics of religion and religious identity in Southeast Asia. What kinds of ‘signifying practices’ (Turner 1999) do films employ to portray the significance of religious practices and identities? By learning the language of film and the techniques used to communicate meaning, we’ll consider in what ways regional films interact with the dominant discourses regarding religion.

SOAS: Indonesia on Screen

SOAS Logo At the end of Indonesia on Screen, a student should be able to demonstrate a broad knowledge of key developments in Indonesian cinema since 1945. The student will have developed the ability to consider these films critically in terms of the historical and cultural context in which they have been created. Students will have learned how to analyse the films both visually and culturally.

SOAS: Southeast Asia on Film

SOAS Logo South East Asia on Film is a half-unit course which examines the key issues raised by a series of Western films set in various parts of South East Asia (such as Java, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam). It looks at the significance of the external, visual perspective on the region, the encounter between Western characters and those of local origin; and the dramatic dilemmas which face the Western traveller/visitor to the region. In doing so the course introduces students to a beginner’s study of the theoretical and critical perspectives of orientalism and postcolonialism as well as to the fundamental elements of critical theory with regard to film.

Univ. of Adelaide/Flinders Univ.: Contemporary Indonesian Cinema

U of Adelaide Logo Indonesia has a thriving film industry. Contemporary Indonesian Cinema explores how Indonesian film makers have explored the post-Suharto era, exploring through film key concerns of contemporary Indonesia moves into a new political era, and redefines its identity. Areas studied include independent film-makers, women film-makers, ethnic minority communities, rural communities and youth stories

USC: Southeast Asian Literature & Film: Maritime SE Asia

USC Logo With a specific focus on the four major nations of maritime Southeast Asia (Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia), Southeast Asia Literature & Film: Maritime Southeast Asia offers a general introduction to literary and cinematic production in the region, emphasizing themes of colonialism, nationalism, religion, gender, the environment, and multiculturalism. Why literature and film? By examining these creative forms of cultural production, we are exposed to how Southeast Asian voices represent and narrate themselves, their communities, their nations, and their histories.

U of Wisconsin: Looking into Island Southeast Asia: Films as Windows to Understanding

U of Wisonsin Logo The goal of Looking into Island Southeast Asia: Films as a Window to Understanding is to provide an inter-disciplinary, visual approach to Island Southeast Asia, using films to teach about certain focus issues ranging from gender and sexuality to colonialism and Islam. Students will develop the ability to "read" films as cultural texts by studying films from several genres and positions: Western feature films about Southeast Asians, Western ethnographic films about Southeast Asians, as well as films made by Southeast Asians about themselves -- their own lives, histories, and cultures. Although the course design emphasizes reading the films as texts, supplementary readings include an eclectic range of Western scholars as well as Southeast Asian novelists, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, politicians, feminist scholars, filmmakers, and exiled activists. Weekly focus films provide windows through which students who are unfamiliar with Southeast Asia can begin to understand and to think critically about several focus issues: Colonialism, Gender, Islam, Violence, and Globalization. Balancing continuity with representation is a difficult task for this part of the world, with its myriad of peoples, languages, and histories. The course is designed with certain focus areas, spanning 3,000 miles across the Indonesian archipelago, from the Mentawai Islands in the Indian Ocean throughWest Sumatra and on to Java, Madura, Bali, East Timor, and West Papua.

Vassar College: Contemporary Southeast Asian Cinema

Vassar College Logo The Contemporary Southeast Asian Cinema course is designed to introduce students to the dynamic and diverse film texts emerging from and about Southeast Asia. It examines how these texts imagine and image Southeast Asia and/or particular nations within the region. More specifically, the course focuses on the themes of urban spaces and memory/trauma as they operate within texts about Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Timor-Leste. The course reading material is designed to provide (1) theoretical insights, (2) general socio-cultural and/or political overviews, and (3) more specific analyses of film texts and/or filmmakers.