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Exporting Perilous PaulinePearl White and the Serial Film Craze$
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Marina Dahlquist

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037689

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037689.001.0001

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From Pearl White to White Rose Woo

From Pearl White to White Rose Woo

Tracing the Vernacular Body of Nüxia in Chinese Silent Cinema, 1927–1931

(p.187) Chapter 7 From Pearl White to White Rose Woo
Exporting Perilous Pauline

Weihong Bao

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the mediated cultural encounter between the American serial queen adventure and nüxiapian, a subgenre of Chinese martial arts films. The nüxiapian genre, featuring a female knight errant, first appeared on the 1920s silent screen and had a lasting influence in Chinese cinema. The chapter first provides an overview of the theoretical and historical underpinnings of the word “vernacular” as well as the cultural essentialist aspects of the martial arts films. It then considers the local as the site of irreducible heterogeneity that enabled active and plural modes of cultural translation, resulting in the “vernacular” body of nüxia. In analyzing the interaction between American serial queen films and the Chinese entertainment world of the 1910s and 1920s, the chapter underscores the dual promise of the May Fourth Vernacular Movement and its implication for Chinese cinema. It also highlights the rise of a particular configuration of the female body on Chinese silent films.

Keywords:   nüxiapian genre, martial arts films, Chinese cinema, cultural translation, vernacular body, nüxia, serial queen films, May Fourth Vernacular Movement, female body, silent films

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