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From Hollywood to Shanghai: American Silent Films in China

Zhang, Qian (2009) From Hollywood to Shanghai: American Silent Films in China. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Advisor: Ronald J. ZborayFROM HOLLYWOOD TO SHANGHAI: AMERICAN SILENT FILMS IN CHINAQian Zhang, PhDUniversity of Pittsburgh, 2009AbstractMy dissertation re-constructs the history of Hollywood movies in 1920s Shanghai through archival work in both China and the United States. Before that decade, film exhibition in China was little more than a novelty with limited social influence. The 1920s saw a boom in American film production and attempts to develop foreign markets for it. Consequently, Hollywood films flooded into China, just ahead of the development of the local national film industry in the late 1920s, and hence shaped the environment for that development. As heralds of a new medium with unprecedented capacity for shaping people's perceptions, beliefs, and viewpoints, American films were received and interpreted by Chinese audiences in a transnational context. My research is mostly based on rarely or never used primary sources both in the United States and China, mainly in archives including the U.S. official documents of the Department of State located at the National Archives, the special collection of the United Artists at the Wisconsin State Historical Society Library, indexed New York Times, and D.W. Griffith's unpublished documents such as D.W. Griffith Papers 1897-1954, 1927 Yearbook of Chinese Cinema, 1920s fan magazines such as The Movie Guide, The China Film Pictorial, The Stage and Screen, The Photoplay World, Photoplay Pictorial, The Movie Magazine, and Cineograph, a collection of film plot sheets, and local popular magazines such as The Good Companion. Through my dissertation, I have found that the promotion and consumption of American films in 1920s Shanghai did not result in a homogeneous American culture as the Chinese re-deployed, re-invented, and appropriated American films for local political, cultural, and social discourses. During that turbulent decade, Hollywood films played into the Chinese political discourse of nationalism and modernity. The modernity discourse was prominent in the Chinese filmic texts and extra-textual filmic spheres. Hollywood's impact on China can be examined by the reaction of the Chinese film industry toward American films, the changing lifestyle of Chinese locals, and their perception of American people and values.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairZboray, Ronald Jzboray@pitt.eduZBORAY
Committee MemberLiu, Xinminxinmin@pitt.eduXINMIN
Committee MemberOlson, Lesterolson@pitt.eduOLSON
Committee MemberFischer, Lucylfischer@pitt.eduLFISCHER
Date: 25 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 3 April 2009
Approval Date: 25 June 2009
Submission Date: 14 April 2009
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: American silent films; Charlie Chaplin; film criticism; Harold Lloyd; Mary Pickford; Shanghai culture in the 1920s; stardom in a transnational context; 1920s Chinese fan magazines; mass communication in a transnational context
Other ID:, etd-04142009-125813
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:37
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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