What happens when our dreams and nightmares become real? After the past few years of upheaval and distress, this suggestion may no longer seem very far-fetched. Concerns about social, ecological, and technological crises, when thematized, however, are often relegated to genres of fiction suggesting a certain departure from reality. If our circumstances have become similar to a “work of science fiction,” then we must also take a closer look at how works of not just science fiction, but also horror and fantasy, rely on the boundaries between familiar and unfamiliar—enabling us to imagine and cognitively process difficult questions that at first, seem uncanny and estranged from our lives.

In this course, we will examine film and media primarily from East Asia that are concerned with the gap between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Through different genres of media, we examine how bodies, spaces, and even the Earth itself—that we take for granted as familiar entities—can become uncanny, strange, and alien. Our class discussion will take us from questions of environmental crisis and neo-imperialism in Bong Joon Ho’s spin on the monster film genre in The Host, through the politics of the self and the boundaries between human and machine in Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell, and Huang Jianxin’s Dislocation, to concerns about the end of the Anthropocene and human dominance over Earth in Chi Hui’s The Rainforest and Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa, Valley of the Wind. This course will introduce students to a wide range of East Asian language film and media materials in translation. No previous knowledge of the region is required.

offering time

Fall 22


Art and Media Studies


Linda Zhang



Course code


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