focus of International Series
By Joshua Hollis
The MUW Spectator
China is a country with many ties to and effects on the
U.S. economy. Dr. Thomas Velek, associate professor of
history and director of the International Series, said
he hopes those attending this year's series will find
out more about the country.
The annual event kicked off its first event Thursday
evening with a film presentation of the award-winning
“Farewell My Concubine,” a film that tells the story of
the Peking Opera, as well as modern Chinese history from
1924 to 1977. Chris Holland, director of Community
Living, led a discussion about the epic 1993 film, which
earned two Oscar nominations in 1993.
Velek said China was chosen as this year's theme because
it is an emerging superpower.
“There is an emerging concern about China as an economic
challenger to the US and China is near the top of the
list of security concerns for the US,” said Velek.
“[China] is a country we will have to contend with. It’s
a country we need to be aware of, be informed about. We
cannot let incidences in the Middle East keep us from
recognizing that China could be a concern for the US in
a few years.”
The International Series will follow its familiar
format, with an International Film Series and a
Lunchtime Lecture Series. The films are shown on the
third Thursday of each month. Upcoming films in the fall
semester include “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman,” with an
introduction and presentation by Dr. Jim Keller,
professor of English, and John Woo’s “The Killer,” a
film which Velek said “lends itself perfectly to a
discussion of the role of violence in the cinema.”
Velek said, “I’m very excited about the film series this
year, because China presents one of the richest film
industries outside of the US.” He said there was an
abundance of films to choose from and it was difficult
deciding where to stop. The series will have two more
films than previous years, for a total of eight.
The International Series also offers the Lunchtime
Lectures Series, held on the third Wednesday of every
month. The first lecture will be held on Sept. 21. Dr.
Bridget Pieschel, head of the Southern Women’s
Institute, will present “China’s Lost Girls.” Pieschel
said she was glad to be chosen to introduce the film
because “the topic is one that I think much of the
‘civilized’ world would like to ignore. The fact that
parents in China are so desperate to have their one
‘allowed’ child be male that they would abandon or even
kill their female babies sounds so barbaric that most
people would assume we were talking about life a
thousand years ago. But this situation exists today.”
Pieschel said, “The International Series in general is
designed to introduce us to a region or country we might
not know much about, to facts both positive and
negative. This particular film gives us a great deal of
insight into how government policy and ancient tradition
can combine to cause a true disaster.”
Keller will tie in his film presentation with a
Lunchtime Lecture of the same name, concerning Asian
cinema and Asian food.
The series will continue next semester with more films,
the continuation of the Lunchtime Lecture Series and a
Chinese scholar visiting campus.
“China is such a ‘big’ country—big in population, big in
geographic size, and big in looming over the US,” said
Velek. He said he hopes those who attend the series will
better understand the country and its place in the
The International Series is underwritten by a grant from
the Mississippi Humanities Council. All the events are
free and open to the public. During the lunchtime
lectures, audience members may bring a lunch.
For a more detailed schedule of this semester’s events,