Call for Papers: Animating Chinese Cinemas – A Special Issue for Journal of Chinese Cinemas (2017)


This special issue aims to rethink the historical relationship between the animated and the cinematic by situating their genealogy in the historical matrix of modern and contemporary Chinese societies. From vernacular animism in early shadow play to mechanical movements in Mao’s model theatres, Chinese cinemas and visual cultures complicate the incessant dialectics between motion and still, animate and inanimate, life and death. Therefore, animation’s ambiguous “in-between” status provides us with a powerful vehicle to explore the historical tensions between aesthetics and politics, between auteurs and labours, between technology and culture.

This special issue will take animation not simply as a category or a genre, but as a method, a new perspective to rethink Chinese film history beyond the assumptions of the photographic and the indexical. We hope to explore the ways in which various kinds of images, objects, and bodies are animated, consumed, and appreciated in different technological, industrial, and cultural contexts. We welcome studies that re-contextualise our historical understanding of Chinese films and filmmaking to such notions as animism, automation, metamorphosis, plasmaticness, as well as concepts of frame, colour, shape, lines, movement, rhythm, and kinetics.

The guest editors of this special issue invite innovative research on a wide variety of animation-related topics that include but are not restricted to:

  • The history of animation production in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and diasporic areas (e.g. industries, auteurs, artistic methods, practices, and techniques).
  • Transnational/trans-cultural aspects of animation production, distribution, and reception (e.g. translation, adaptation, co-production, outsourcing, voice dubbing)
  • Institutional structures in animation production and reception (e.g. art institutes, education, festivals, exhibitions, mass market).
  • Early animation, optic theatres, and pre-cinema.
  • Expanded animation and expanded cinema (e.g. music videos, avant-garde films, visual arts, installations).
  • Hybrid media and convergence (e.g. video games, computer graphics, digital cinema).
  • Animation and technology (e.g. automaton, algorithm, cybernetics).
  • Animation and textuality (e.g. image, texts, animate and inanimate objects).
  • Animation and phenomenology (e.g. visual perception of dimensionality, digital presence, interactive experience).
  • Animation and subjectivity (e.g. consciousness, self-reflexivity, ideology).
  • Animation’s playfulness and its reconfiguration of forms, styles and artistic conventions.
  • Representation and identity politics in animated bodies.
  • Cultural studies of animation reception and consumption (e.g. children’s media, cyber culture, television, toys, and merchandising).

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words by March 31, 2016 to Li Guo ( and Jinying Li (; selected abstracts will be invited to submit full manuscripts (8000 words maximum) by August 31, 2016 for consideration of inclusion in the special issue for Journal of Chinese Cinemas in 2017.

Journal of Chinese Cinemas is a major peer-refereed academic publication devoted to the study of Chinese film, drawing on the recent world-wide growth of interest in Chinese cinemas. All peer review is double blind.