How is Media "Free" or "Not Free"?
Students will consider China's rating by Freedom House, a non-profit organization that defines itself as "a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world." Students will discuss what factors contribute to this rating. They will contrast the state of Chinese media by evaluating what make the press "free." In addition, students will see the relationship between political freedom and a free press. Students will examine the Freedom House Map of Freedom of the Press at www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=16&year=2005&country=6715 to discover what other countries have media organizations that are "not free" and what countries have "free" press.
Two Portraits in Front of Tiananmen Square
Students will examine two oil paintings set in front of Mao Zedong's portrait in Tiananmen Square. One was painted right before the Cultural Revolution and the other painted a few years after the 1989 protests. They will "read" the painting to uncover important visual cues and they will consider the social and historical context behind these images.
In Front of Tiananmen, Sun Zixi, 1964
Taking a Picture in Front of Tiananmen, Wang Jingsong, 1992
At these sites students will compare and contrast these two images set at the same place. The class will review modern China's timeline and consider the messages implicit in these paintings. Special attention should be paid to the artists' generation for the students to evaluate the relationship between the artist and the setting. Are these positive or negative images? Are these critical messages or neutral moments? For further work, students can research the impact of the 1989 democracy movement on Chinese art -- both from the perspective of the artists and the government's support or crackdown on art.
In this lesson from the FRONTLINE documentary "China in the Red," students will explore contemporary examples of banned Chinese literature and consider why these works have been banned. Students can also visit the American Library Association's Web site at http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/bbwlinks/100mostfrequently.htm to discover what works of literature have been frequently banned by different communities in the United States. Students will consider the difference between banning access to the arts or information by a community or a government.