This course examines film and short fiction as vehicles for the production of Vietnamese cultural
identities in the modern era. The tumultuous modern history of Vietnam (which is marked by three
major wars, political division, unification, the destruction of one state, plus subsequent massive
emigration of southern populations to the U.S., France, and elsewhere, as well as—most recently—
normalization of international relations, and remarkable economic growth) has forced time and
again, a deep and sometimes soul-wrenching reassessment of Vietnamese identity. Massive
emigration over the 1970s and ‘80s following the Vietnam War, further complicated the question of
identity, leading to large diaspora communities abroad with divergent values, aesthetics, and
traditions. Throughout these upheavals, the production of short fiction, film, and tv have provided
Vietnamese artists with a mirror of contemplation, a space for reckoning, and a canvas for the
portrayal of alternative visions of Vietnamese life, society, and culture. Our class will begin with a
range of short fiction produced at the end of the French period, in a time when Vietnamese
intellectuals were struggling to imagine a new Vietnam free of colonial rule. We will then turn to
depictions of the Vietnam war, and scrutinize both how foreign gazes represented Vietnam as well
as how Vietnamese artists portrayed their own societies during this fraught time. Finally, we will turn
to the postwar period, examining film, tv, and literature from both the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
and contemporary diaspora communities, and ask how these artists imagine Vietnam and its future,
in a time when the wars that tore apart the country are receding in memory

offering time

Fall 22


Yen Vu


Course code


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