HAVC 124E: Southeast Asian American Visual Culture

HAVC 124E: Southeast Asian American Visual Culture (Spring 2021) Please DO NOT reproduce this writing assignment without written permission. Moreover, please do not post it outside of Canvas at UCSC. Thank you. Writing Assignment: An Analysis of film, Richard Hall and Fahm Saeyang, Death of a Shaman (2003) Note: Please use class time, Tuesday, May 18th to watch this film on your own and be ready to participate in an in-class discussion scheduled for Thursday, May 20. You can watch this film on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkpGXi4QOMM N.B.: The writing assignment is due on Monday, May 24 at 11:59 pm. We only accept papers submitted through Canvas. Note: We do not accept e-mailed papers or late papers. Directions and Guidelines This writing assignment asks you to write a short paper analyzing Richard Hall and Fahm Saeyang, Death of a Shaman (2003) by answering ONE of the following prompt questions below. You must write a three-page (maximum four-page) essay answering one of the prompt questions below. In addition, please draw upon materials from class lectures and in-class discussion. There is no specific assigned readings for this film. However, if you find relevant readings in the assigned readings, please feel free to reference them. Also please be sure to footnote (endnotes) my lectures and in-class discussion about this film. There are many different styles of footnotes and endnotes. Please use the Chicago Style of footnotes and endnotes and you can find instruction and examples at the Perdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL): https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/resources.html N.B.: Should you need to learn how to use footnotes, this is a very useful online resource. More important, please structure your essay around a thesis statement, and organize your visual analysis and discussion of two specific scenes (note: film as a medium is comprised of moving images, sound, dialogue, interview and voice-over narrative) from the film into a cohesive argument. Note: Please be sure to choose two specific scenes from the film that enable you to substantiate your argument. Please note also that we do not accept Web sites as sources (i.e., do not use Google or Wikipedia for this assignment). We will not read drafts of your writing assignment. However, Christina and I would be more than happy to discuss the assignment questions with you. In fact, I would encourage you to see us during our office hours.


Note: Please DO NOT fill your pages with a summary of the plot of the film. Keep in mind that you are asked to provide your own analysis, not write a synopsis. Rest assured that we have seen this film many times, so just mention the plot when it is relevant to your argument. You will get an automatic “F” on your paper if you hand in a paper that is simply a summary of the story narrated in the film. Warning: If you do not follow the above directions and guidelines, you risk failing the writing assignment. PLAGIARISM: What is plagiarism? See these websites: http://library.ucsc.edu/help/research/what-is-plagiarism Academic Integrity UCSC: http://www.ue.ucsc.edu/ai_definitions Student Misconduct: https://www.ue.ucsc.edu/academic_misconduct N.B.: In the age of great internet access and smart phone, we all turn to google for information and thus it is very important that you avoid copying information and writings from the internet and claim them as your own work. Please be honest and respectful of copyright laws by footnoting and crediting your sources properly. Warning: If you get caught plagiarizing, you will get an automatic “F” on the assignment and in the course. We will report your misconduct to the provost of your respective colleges and your case will be handled according to the regulations and policies as outlined in the above websites. Prompt Questions:

1. In Fahm Fong Saeyang and Richard Hall’s 2003 film, Death of A Shaman, the narrator, Fahm Fong Saeyang is a journalist and her narrative in the voice- over gives great coherency to hers and her father’s story in the film. How do moving and still images in the film help to shape this narrative coherency? Discuss how the filmmakers weave together different film footages and still photographs to make this into a coherent story. Note: Please be sure not to rehash the entire story to us, but simply make references to the narrative when it is apt and helpful to your argument. More important, please be sure to substantiate your thesis with visual evidence from two scenes in the film.

2. Discuss the role objects such as books and other artifacts within Mien culture and religion help to shape their cultural identity and sense of self? How does destroying these ancestral objects mean to the Lu-Mien cultural and religious identity?


Note: Please be sure to substantiate your argument with visual and verbal evidences from the film.

3. After viewing this film, what kind of portrait do you have of Fahm Fong Saeyang’s father? How do the images (film footages and still photographs) and stories in the film portray this man? Who was Yoon Fong Saeyang? More important, what kind of portrait (character?) does the narrator find out about her father’s histories? Note: Please substantiate your argument with visual and verbal evidence by pointing to specific images (moving and still) and two scenes in the film.

4. Similar to the Hmong, the Miens are mobile people who do not have a nation- state. Where is “home” for Fahm Fong Saeyang? Where does she belong? Please be sure to back up your argument with visual and verbal evidences from the film.

5. Where does Fahm Fong Saeyang gets her idea of making a documentary film

about her late father? In what ways is this film a continuation of her late’s father’s wish to fulfill his desire to preserve the Mien religion and cultural identity for his children in the United States? Note: Please be specific and substantiate your argument with visual and verbal evidence from the film.

6. Discuss and analyze two poignant moments in the film that we see Fahm

Fong Saeyang fell with great confidence and assurance that she has reclaimed her soul, self, and cultural identity in the film. What do these moments tell us about the significant role objects and traditional clothing play in Lu-Mien culture? Please note that in the West and particularly in the United States, wearing one’s own “ethnic” clothes is belittled as “going native”, “self Orientalizing”, “exotic”, “ethnic chic”, “unauthentic”, “trying too-hard” and more.

7. This question asks you to choose your own topic or theme in the film that you

find compelling and provocative and want to discuss and provide us with your own analysis.

Warning: if you choose to answer question # 7, please be sure that you have a strong argument and are able to substantiate your argument

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