Thursday, February 7 from 4 - 6 PM
Location: 1501 UH
Sissi/Xixi/茜茜: How An Austrian Empress Becomes the Princess of Communist China
Ke-chin Hsia and Fei-Hsien Wang, Indiana University
Why and how did Sissi/Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-1898) became such a popular icon in China after the mid-1980s? We explore the post-Mao Chinese obsession with "Sissi" or, more accurately, the fictionalized depiction of her in the 1950s German/Austrian film trilogy starring Romy Schneider. Our effort to solve the puzzle begins with the film trilogy's entry to China in the age of "Reform and Opening Up," when the cinematic Sissi established her dominance in defining what is desirable in matters "European," and began to serve as an central reference point as well as a role model to many in China. In today's China, Sissi has morphed into a locally-created figure Xixi. Her legacy and images have been used to sell underwear, breast augmentation, apartments, yogurt, and the "Belt and Road" initiative. Sissi/Xixi's career in the ever-changing contemporary China illustrates not only the mythologized Sissi's cross-cultural mobility and malleability, but also how the contemporary Chinese have reconstructed their images of Europe and empires.
Ke-Chin Hsia is a Lecturer in the History Department, Indiana University Bloomington and specializes in the history of modern Central European society and politics, the First World War, and the welfare state. He is completing a book manuscript tentatively titled Victims' State: War and Welfare in Austria.\
Fei-Hsien Wang is an Assistant Professor in the History Department, Indiana University Bloomington. Her research interests include cultural economy, law, and business in the long 20th century China. Her book, Copyright in Modern China: A Social History, will be published by Princeton University Press in Fall 2019.
Sponsored by Germanic Studies, School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics, Global Asian Studies, Institute for the Humanities