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Chinese Film and Society

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“Chinese Film and Society” is a four-week school teacher institute for twenty-five participants that uses film as a means of learning about modern Chinese history and culture. The Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS) and the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies treat China’s national cinema as a medium for studying Chinese history and issues of national identity. The Institute has a dual ambition: to make use of films to understand and interpret Chinese history, culture and contemporary society, and to understand the problematics of film as a medium for representing an entire nation.  Prior to arriving, teachers are asked to read Yu Hua’s novel To Live  and watch the 1994 film version; read key texts, including co-director Gary Xu’s  Sinascape: Contemporary Chinese Cinema; and participate in web-based discussion.  As an example of the full program’s offerings, the first week includes an overview of Opium War to Communist Revolution history, with special emphasis on the May Fourth Movement of 1919; a study of literature and their film adaptations; discussion of China’s 1930s “golden era” of cinema; and the screening of two films on the Opium War made generations apart that underscore revisions in popular historic interpretation.  Films from the Maoist period (1949-1976) as well as documentaries (e.g., Last Train Home) are introduced in the next three weeks to stimulate consideration of the changing nature of politics, culture, and society in China, as well as recent challenges stemming from globalization.  Visiting scholars include political scientist Stanley Rosen (University of Southern California), anthropologist Myron Cohen (Columbia University), film expert and philosopher William Rothman (University of Miami), and historian Paul Pickowicz (University of California, San Diego).

Dates: July 9--August 3 (4 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: University of Illinois, Champaign
Location: Champaign, IL

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.