This essay focuses on the cinematic form of revolutionary melodrama, or, more specifically, on alterations made to family melodrama in the construction of the big socialist family as an imagined social space. Reading Red Detachment of Women (1961) in the tradition of family melodrama, the author examines the ways the film transforms the genre and conjures up an alternative socialist space, which also provides room for more fluid gender formations that radically redefine such notions as women and femininity. This essay also uncovers in the film an affective space contiguous with both the private and the public, suggesting a sort of collectivity that neither presumes autonomous individuals nor is subsumed to a unitary state power.
Red Detachment of Women: Revolutionary Melodrama and Alternative Socialist Imaginations
xiao liu is an assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Studies at McGill University. She works in the areas of Chinese cinema, media history, and media theory. She is currently completing a book that examines the transformations in media practices and aesthetics in relation to the cybernetic and information discourses in post-Mao China.
Xiao Liu; Red Detachment of Women: Revolutionary Melodrama and Alternative Socialist Imaginations. differences 1 November 2015; 26 (3): 116–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3340396
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