Contemporary Southeast Asian Society and Culture through Film
General Catalog Course Title:
South and Southeast Asian Studies 84, Section 1
Terms Offered:
Fall 2016
Fall 2015
Fall 2014
Fall 2013
Course Thread: 
Cultural Forms in Transit
Instructor: 
Smith, Frank
Instructor: 
Tran, Bac

In this seminar we will examine contemporary Southeast Asian society and culture through the lens of contemporary Southeast Asian films, three each from Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. In discussions about the films in class we will seek to understand how these films mirror modern and traditional aspects of the societies in which they were produced. We will also consider the films as examples of current world cinema and vehicles of storytelling. In their four-page papers for each section of the course, students will address the above broad issues (referencing class discussions when appropriate) in relation to their own experiences and opinions, focusing either on one film or comparing two or three from the same country. Students should plan to participate actively and consistently in class discussions, remembering that class participation makes up 25% of the grade in the course. Previous knowledge of or personal experience with Southeast Asian societies and cultures, and if possible Southeast Asian film, is desired but not required. Students with no previous knowledge of Southeast Asia who have experience watching and discussing a wide range of films from other countries with a critical eye are also welcome. This seminar is part of the Connections@Cal initiative.

Joi Barrios has a Ph.D. in Filipino and Philippine Literature. She is the author of five books, among them the poetry collection To Be a Woman is to Live at a Time of War and her research, From the Theater Wings: Grounding and Flight of Filipino Women Playwrights.

Frank Smith has taught Khmer language since 1990 (since 2008 at UCB). He has done anthropological research on Khmer and Thai culture, taught a workshop on subtitling Southeast Asian film, taught classes on the Ramayana in Southeast Asian adaptation, and previously lived in Thailand for six years.

Bac Hoai Tran has a Master's degree in English with a concentration in Linguistics from San Francisco State University. He is the author of the textbook Conversational Vietnamese (2008), and is a coauthor of the Vietnamese Practical Dictionary (2010) and Living with English (2001). He is a co-translator of the collection of short stories titled The Stars, The Earth, The River (1997), as well as several other short stories in the anthologies The Other Side of Heaven (1995), Vietnam: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (1996), Night, Again (1996), Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia (2002), and Crossing the River (2003).

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.