Wuxia Class Flies to Taiwan!
Hello! It has been awhile since I've posted, but things at the Inn have gotten really busy and with Spring breaking out all over up here, the roads are calling to us cyclists! The big news is that my wuxia class is literally flying to Taiwan for most of May!
Due to the generosity of Huafan University, I have been invited to give a two-week seminar/film festival on my wuxia writing. It won't be the Boston University course, as I certainly won't be teaching wuxia to the Chinese, who invited it! It seems that Huafan is interested in my interpretation of that tradition through my writing and my academic background in Chinese history. So for this version of the class, which I've entitled, “Wandering the World: A Wuxia Writer's Path”, I have thought to present the Western ideal of the hero/heroine and contrast it to the traditional East Asian ideal. The four-night film festival that will accompany the 18-hour seminar features : Seven Samurai, to represent the East Asian cinematic standard; Lord of the Rings - Return of the King, to illustrate the classic Western take on the heroic ideal; Unforgiven, to represent the classic American hero and idea of the anti-hero; and The Dark Knight, to show a Western interpretation of the hero, as civilization, verses chaos and all that opposes an ordered society. Of course, there are many more films to choose from, but the festival is limited to four films. I will be showing A Chinese Ghost Story and Princesss Mononoke in class to illustrate points about what cinema has influenced my writing and the role of women in this genre of cinema, respectively.
In my own writing, I've always considered the story-telling skill of Akira Kurosawa and Patrick O'Brian as my guiding lights. I used Seven Samurai in my Boston University course to good effect, though I remember on one Internet discussion board someone brought up the question as why I would use a Japanese samurai movie to discuss Chinese wuxia. I take a broader view on these things seeing the ideal of the hero/heroine rather than narrow genre typing.
Further, it is this broader view that informs my style of wuxia where I place the emphasis more on the “xia” aspect, the “chivalry” or, “heroic” aspect than the martial or “wu” aspect of the wuxia genre. I think Kurosawa's movie is extremely successful in illustrating this heroic aspect - so much so, that if you look at lists of the top action/adventure movies ever made, Seven Samurai seems universally respected. And that's another aspect of wuxia storytelling that I'm interested in - how to make this genre accessible to a global English language audience.
Having taught in Taiwan for over a decade, it will be great getting back. Hopefully, I will once again be able to stimulate my Taiwanese students into reflecting on these global storytelling issues. If I have a chance, I might write here about the seminar as it progresses, but will definitely write a wrap-up of my experience after I get back to the Inn. There are some other exciting things going on with my writing, but I will wait until it all matures before I comment on it.
I'm also greatly looking forward to seeing how the writers conclude the great TV epic, LOST!!! I am a long-time fan of their storytelling skills.
Hope Spring is proving to be as fruitful for all of your writing!