Analyzing films for cultural content captivated Loujing “Gina” Pan ’15 (Edison, N.J.) last spring. At the end of her Introduction to Contemporary Chinese Cinema course, she approached Li Yang, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures, about learning more.
This year, Pan, a double major in government & law and Asian studies, has been working with Yang on several projects examining contemporary Chinese cinema through Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars undergraduate research program. This has led Pan to develop her own project on how Korean pop idols contribute to widespread issues with body image and surges in plastic surgery and unhealthy dieting. She presented her work this semester at the Asian Studies Undergraduate Research Conference.
Pan conducted research for Yang’s book, The Second Wave of Chinese Art Film: Film System, Film Style, and Alternative Film Culture in the 1990s. She has also helped research an article about movie stars in propaganda films and another about torture and the female body in a thriller.
“Working with Professor Yang has helped my research skills tremendously,” she says. “She’s also offered me a lot of advice on how to improve my research topics.”
Yang and Pan watched several films together as part of their research, often with fruitful discussions afterwards.
“The discussions with her directly propel my research,” says Yang. “After viewing the films, she often pointed out some details that I overlooked, which led to interesting discoveries.”
With aspirations of attending law school after graduation, Pan believes the biggest benefits of working with Yang have been growth in her analytical skills and a desire to look deeper at media such as movies and advertisements.
“It’s helped me a lot to understand just how many things in life we don’t critically analyze when we should,” Pan says. “These things influence our behavior. They influence our mindsets, and we may not even be aware of it. That’s incredibly dangerous.”