Disappearance of the romantic monster: a genealogical study of the female monster in Chinese cinema
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date06/02/2024
The anthropological conception of the ‘monster’ is defined as the ‘other’: the unknown beings that surpass the boundary of human civilization. However, there is a sort of female monster on the Chinese screen that could hardly be defined as such. The thesis will discuss the ‘romantic monsters,’ rooted in traditional Chinese literary works, that have thrived in Chinese film. They are ghost girls, fox spirits and snake demons who constantly fall in love with humans. The characterisations of these female monsters are full of paradoxes such as feminine and masculine, dead and alive, inhuman and morally superior. The cinematic presentation of the romantic monster might seem complex and undefined, yet for those who are familiar with Chinese culture, these figures are archetypal and commonplace. The thesis posits that the image of the romantic monster should be reevaluated as an archetype of female characters in Chinese cinema. Therefore, the thesis seeks to provide a genealogical study of the cinematic imagination of the romantic monster, focusing on both the literary and filmic origins of this archetype, its recent changes, and its disappearance when the female monster turned into the uncanny, barbaric ‘other’. The study of the emergence, development, and subsequent disappearance of the romantic monster will fill in the gaps in research on the images of female characters in Chinese cinema and provide insights from a feminist perspective. We could learn from monsters, as their stories are always about ourselves.