CINEMAS, HIGHWAYS, AND THE MAKING OF PROVINCIAL SPACE: MOBILE SCREENINGS IN JIANGSU, CHINA, 1933-1937

Hongwei Thorn Chen

Abstract


In 1933, the Jiangsu Provincial Mass Education Center in Zhenjiang begun to screen educational shorts that it ordered from Shanghai’s Eastman Kodak to inhabitants of the city and its rural suburbs. By 1935, it began circulating domestically produced educational films promoting national industries and sceneries, as well as select commercial features from Shanghai. This article examines how the Center’s educational film screenings functioned as both spatial and representational practice. Analyzing screening illustrations and exhibition manuals circulated in educational periodicals, I argue that the Center’s mobile exhibition practices, while attempting to integrate spectators into the homogenous spatial imaginary of the nation, could not but approach film screening as a heterogeneous conglomeration of different systems. As registered in the sometimes-fantastic illustrations depicting the future of “electrified education,” film screenings offered a way of bringing together fragmented and often conflicting scales of experience.


Keywords


Film, Cinema, Space

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