Midterm preview – Required of all students

Think of this as a writing exercise rather than an exam. The exam will count as part of your class
grade which is a completion grade. That means your work does not need to be perfect, but needs
to be respectable in order to earn a respectable grade, which actually is no different than the
standard for an exam taken for a letter grade.
Purpose of Exam
Before you write, please consider the “purpose” of this exam. It is easy to think of exams as rote
and tedious exercises that are milestones along your path to a college degree, especially if you
are taking Chinese 3360 as a Core course. However, please think of this exam in another way.
Essentially, what should a reader of your exam perceive about you? If this exam were a job
interview, how would you rate?
Let’s say there are 50 applicants for a job with five openings. To be selected, you would need to
be in the top 10%, or in the first five. But what if you are not in the top 10%? It is still best if the
evaluator of your exam sees from your writing that you are able to present points coherently and
Since this exam is exclusively writing, that means the following.
To make a positive impression, the best answers are logically organized, concise, persuasive and
neutrally stated. The reader of your exam should see from your answers that you are a reflective
individual with something to say, and said clearly. That is your goal, so when you finish your
answers you should reread, and make this judgement about yourself:
“did I present my answers in an intelligent way, so that even if I am not in the top 10%, when the
teacher reads my test he/she will not moan and groan, and not wish to bang his/her head on the
What to do.
Ok, that’s the philosophical approach to the exam. Here is what you will actually do. Please note
that when you are finished, you should submit your exam to the Turnitin folder.
Prepare all questions with short essay answers of about 10-15 sentences. You may work alone or
discuss in a small group. However, please do not submit the same written answers. If you do,
that will be flagged by Turnitin.
To repeat from above, the best answers must be logically organized, concise, persuasive and
neutrally stated. Do not give your “opinion,” instead write in a neutral way that is based on the
evidence in the films, and elsewhere if you do research.
Assume that your reader is familiar with the films. So please do not simply retell the story,
although you may give concise details of a scene that supports your answers.
Do not write more than fifteen sentences for each answer. Fewer sentences are acceptable as long
as you answer the question. English does not have to be perfect, but organization is important.
Best if your answer is in a paragraph with a topic sentence.
Thomas Mao
(a) How is the concept of “fantasy” intertwined into Thomas Mao?
(b) Are there any implications of national identity underpinning Thomas Mao?
(a) Towards the end of Sunflower, Gengnian (father) goes to see Xiangyang’s exhibition. Explain
how the progression and content of the paintings, and any dialogue between
father and son symbolizes their relationship. Include how the scene is a climax of the main
action of the film. Best to also mention the exhibits that ARE NOT painted by Xiangyang.
(b) How is the Communist Party “present” in the film Sunflower? Don’t limit yourself to just one
Touch of Sin
(a) The fourth story told in A Touch of Sin is of the boy Xiao Hui who goes
to work in a factory in Dongguan, and falls in love with the prostitute Lianrong. The story
starts when Xiao Hui’s co-worker injures his hand. Subsequently Xiao Hui is reprimanded by
the factory manager. How do the manager’s speech and body language represent the
management/worker relationship. Does this scene fit the ideals of the Communist Party?
You may consider that this scene shows a departure from the socialist ideal of common
ownership, and a departure from a social bond of how citizens work together for the common
(b) In A Touch of Sin story one, Dahai rides his motorcycle towards the statue
of Chairman Mao. A truck approaches and the riders ask him for directions. Describe the
scene in a little more detail and explain any symbolic meaning.
To Live
(a) In To Live, how do the deaths of Fengxia and Youqing represent policies of the Communist
(b) Why is To Live an appropriate title for the film? You might include the chicken-goose-ox
metaphor in your question.
(a) How does “the bathhouse scene” represent a transition between the old and new China?
(b) Is Tian’anmen “propaganda?” What are some examples, and is propaganda necessarily bad?
Cumulative question
Consider the films Thomas Mao, Sunflower, To Live, Touch of Sin, and Tian’anmen. How do
these films present a “sketch” history of modern China? You may present your points in a bullet
point list, or write about 10-15 sentences to sum up your main point.

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