Semiotics of Exile and Genre Upsetting: Xie Jin’s Subversion of Melodrama in Hibiscus Town

  • Hong Zeng
Part of the Semiotics and Popular Culture book series (SEMPC)


Throughout the films examined in this book, the upsetting of genre has been symptomatic of exile, no matter whether it is cultural, colonial, postmodern, or postsocialist exile. Wong Kar-wai’s and Stanley Kwan’s prolific use of postmodern narrative and photographic techniques, which subvert the traditional genres of the martial-arts movie or melodrama, indicates postcolonial exile in Hong Kong consciousness. Jiang Wen’s use of postmodern simulacra in revolutionary discourse indicates a postsocialist exile. While the upsetting of genre might not always indicate exile, in many cases it is symptomatic of exile, since upsetting traditional genres that are imbued with traditional ideologies is often indicative of uprootedness from traditional values themselves. Thus, we might regard the upsetting of genre as an important facet of the semiotics of exile.


Cultural Revolution Innocent Victim Official Discourse Folk Song Early Film 
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  1. 1.
    See Nick Browne, “Society and Subjectivity: On the Political Economy of Chinese Melodrama,” and Man Ning’s “Spatiality and Subjectivity in Xie Jin’s Film Melodrama of the New Period,” in New Chinese Cinema: Forms, Identities, Politics, edited by Nick Browne, Paul Pickowicz, Vivian Sobchack, and Esther Yau (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Christine Gledhill, Introduction, Home Is Where the Heart Is: Studies in Melodrama and the Woman’s Film (Cambridge: British Film Institute, 1987).Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    See Xudong Zhang, Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reform (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), part I.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    See Han Shaogong, “Papapa,” in Homecoming? And Other Stories (Boston: Cheng & Tsui, 1995).Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Jean-Louis Comolli, “Technique and Ideology: Camera, Perspective, Depth of Field,” in Movies and Methods, edited by Bill Nichols (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 22–30.Google Scholar

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© Hong Zeng 2012

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  • Hong Zeng

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