One of the first questions that I had when we arrived in Champaign, Illinois, was, “Is it Urbana-Champaign or Champaign-Urbana?” The University is called University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), but I saw buses with signs saying Champaign-Urbana. The reason for the hyphenated name is because the school is located between the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana. I believe I first head about UIUC through its association with Mosaic, the first graphical web browser.
Today’s screening of Autumn Gem was held at the Asian American Cultural Center and was sponsored by the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies. There were about 30 people at the showing. With so many scholars and professors in the room, the questions and answers were again numerous and spirited. Rae and I have gotten a lot of great comments and suggestions for the film. Some of the notable questions included the following:
The song played during the ending credits is a famous song called Man Jiang Hong. The song is often (perhaps incorrectly, according to Wikipedia) attributed to the Chinese national hero Yue Fei, who was one of Qiu Jin’s heroes. Because we do not display the lyrics during the credits, however, there was confusion as to why we chose a song so strongly associated with Yue Fei to conclude the movie. It turns out that Qiu Jin wrote an alternate set of lyrics for Man Jiang Hong; Rae’s parents’ choir performed this version of the song for the film. Perhaps we will add these lyrics to a future screening version of Autumn Gem.
Some people thought that the film portrayed Qiu Jin as the first person who openly criticized the practice of foot binding. This is, of course, not true; over the long history of foot binding, there were many people who argued against the practice. Even after Qiu Jin’s death, many women continued to have their feet bound. As scholar Hu Ying states in the film, “Qiu Jin was not an original political thinker, she was more of a person on a mission.” We chose to focus on her efforts in Autumn Gem; we’ll probably add a slide to our introductory presentation about this.
Tomorrow morning, we fly out to Baltimore for a screening at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Until then, here are some photos from the screening at Urbana-Champaign!