Culture on the big screen gets spotlight in Oct. 4 lecture

An exploration of cultural representations in film will lead off a series of free, public lectures on history and culture this fall with an Oct. 4 event honoring the legacy of a noted medieval scholar and alumna.

Kristine Harris, associate professor of history and director of the Asian Studies Program at State University of New York at New Paltz, will present "Mulan and Her Sisters: Women of the Middle Period Re-Imagined in Chinese Film and Visual Culture." The talk is this year's Mary Martin McLaughlin Memorial Lecture, sponsored by UNL's Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program. It begins at 5 p.m. at the Great Plains Art Museum with a reception to follow.

Harris' lecture will analyze the early 20th century trend in Chinese film and visual culture to rework classic narratives from the Tang and other sixth- through 10th-century periods. Among other things, the lecture will include illustrations and clips from 1910s-20s films based on the legendary Chinese heroine, Mulan — a woman who joins the emperor's army in place of her ailing father.

Harris is an expert in the history of modern China and Japan.

The annual McLaughlin Memorial Lecture brings to UNL a medievalist whose work on women, gender and/or the family honors McLaughlin's legacy. McLaughlin, a Grand Island native, earned a bachelor's degree in history from Nebraska in 1940, a master's degree the following year and returned to the university to teach while writing her dissertation. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1953.

Medieval scholars hold McLaughlin's work in the highest regard, particularly her research on the role of women, children and families in the Middle Ages. McLaughlin died in 2006 at age 87.

Other lectures in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program's fall schedule include:

Oct. 29, 7 p.m. — Emidio Campi, emeritus professor from the Institute for Swiss Reformation History at the University of Zurich, "Protestant Reformers and Islam," 229 Andrews Hall

Nov. 28, 5 p.m. — Presentations, including poetry, music, and scenes from plays about Joan of Arc, will round out a celebration of the 600th anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc.

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