New Perspectives on Gender Equality in Literature and Film

In commemoration of Vietnamese Women’s Day on October 20th, the international conference, “From the History of the Other: Women and Female Authors in Vietnamese Literature and Film” (Khác 2023), took place, offering fresh approaches and perspectives on women and gender equality.

Speakers posing for a commemorative photo at Thai Binh Duong University.

The conference featured distinguished speakers, including Dr. Pham Quoc Loc (Principal of Thai Binh Duong University), Associate Professors and Doctors Lan Duong (University of Southern California, USA), Natacha CyruLnik (Aix-Marseille University, France), Prof. Jack A. Yeager (Louisiana State University, USA), and Associate Professors and Doctors Martina Nguyen (City University of New York, USA), among many other renowned experts.

Khác 2023 comprised 8 sub-committees, focusing on various thematic areas:

  • Sub-committee 1: Authors Nguyen Thuy Trang, Nguyen Thi Bich, Dao Thi Diem Trang, Le Thi Tuan, Mai Anh Tuan, and Nguyen Vi Thuy discussed the creation and deconstruction of gender stereotypes in literature and film.
  • Sub-committee 2: Authors Hoang Phong Tuan-Nguyen Thi Minh, Nguyen Giang Huong, Phung Ngoc Kien, Tran Van Toan, Hoang To Mai-Tran Thi Khanh Vi, and Elizabeth Nguyen focused on the theme “Migration, Gender, and Identity: from inter-layer to inter-culture.”
  • Sub-committee 3: Authors Mai Thi Thu Huyen, Dang Thi Thai Ha, Vu Kieu Chinh-Nguyen Thi Hoai Phuong, Bui Duy Thanh Mai, and Nguyen Thi Kim Nhan delved into the discussion on “Women’s experiences and the politics of emotions.”
  • Sub-committee 4: With authors Damjan Rakonjac, Nguyen Phuong Khanh, Do Hai Ninh, Dang Thu Ha, Nguyen Van Thuan-Nguyen Anh Dan, exploring the topic “Female authors and the potential to rewrite literary and cinematic history.”
  • Sub-committee 5: Authors Tran Ngoc Hieu, Hoang Da Vu, Tran Thi Thuc, Hoang Cam Giang, and Trinh Dang Nguyen Huong focused on the theme: “The art of motherhood: gender and power in literature and film.”
  • Sub-committee 6: With authors Tran Khanh Thanh, Le Huong Thuy, Tran Thi Van, Nguyen Thanh Tung-Trinh Thuy Duong, Pham Van Anh discussing the issue of “Gender confusion and genre confusion.”
  • Sub-committee 7: Authors Le Nguyen Long, Thai Phan Vang Anh, Le Thi Duc Tu, Quach Thi Thu Hien delved into the significant narrative of “Women between tradition and modernity: the politics of gender.”
  • Sub-committee 8: With authors Pham Van Hung, Do Thi Thu Huyen-Nguyen Thi To Ninh, Ho Khanh Van, Nguyen Thi Tram-Bui Tra My, sharing perspectives on “Masculinity, femininity, and innovations in women/female authors.”

In recent years, while various new Western critical theories continue to permeate Vietnam, gender studies and feminism—seemingly familiar approaches both locally and internationally—have been expanding and deeply integrating into cultural and artistic spheres. Many classic and updated works in gender studies and feminism have been translated, introduced, and applied in numerous universities and research institutions nationwide. These works, along with subsequent developments, have fostered connections and resonances between social sciences and humanities research in Vietnam and global movements advocating for gender equality and social justice, such as #TimesUp, #Metoo, #Not One Less, #HeForShe, #BringBackOurGirls, #EverydaySexism, #WomenShould, #YesAllWomen, #WhyIStayed, among others.

While gender studies and feminist theories play crucial roles in artistic creation, research, and criticism, historical aspects of literature and cinema that contain implicit gender implications have not received comprehensive attention in Vietnam. Hence, the scientific conference, “From the History of the Other: Women and Female Authors in Vietnamese Literature and Film,” aims to explore gender research from a historical perspective within literary and cinematic criticism in Vietnam.

First and foremost, the conference endeavors to construct a new literary and cinematic landscape for women and about women by rewriting specific parts or entire histories of art—where female authors have not been adequately evaluated. These endeavors provide opportunities for the presence and prominence of women in the field.

Additionally, the conference focuses on introducing and summarizing feminist theories, gender research achievements, and lessons learned from these approaches in specific Vietnamese contexts. By activating and exploring the perspectives and insights of women, the conference emphasizes interdisciplinary and inter-layer research approaches. It advocates for the integration of gender injustices with societal injustices, environmental injustices, racial discrimination, and the dismantling of gender stereotypes, molds, and violence—both within and through literature and film, popular culture, and art.

It is hoped that Khác 2023 will be a meaningful event in the research and application of critical research theories in social and humanities sciences to reimagine, reinterpret, and reconstruct artistic history. It aims to open new doors, suggesting fresh answers to the long-standing (yet not new) societal issues, such as #Vietnam #genderequality #globalization.

The conference also aims to provide a platform for writers, filmmakers, literary critics, film critics, social activists, viewers, literature and film students, publishers, and scholars to meet, exchange ideas, and share diverse perspectives on gender issues in general and women’s rights in particular. This platform is based on interdisciplinary, inter-media, and comprehensive understandings. Moreover, these initiatives lay the foundation for a long-term process of building a “gender knowledge system,” “gender performance culture,” “gender dialogue,” and “gender equality” in Vietnam with the world in the context of transculturalism and globalization.

Khác 2023 took place from October 20th to 21st at Thai Binh Duong University (Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa). The program was organized in collaboration with Thai Binh Duong University, the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (National University of Hanoi), the Institute for Research on Theatre and Film (Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema), the Department of Literature (Hue University of Education and the Social Sciences and Humanities (Ho Chi Minh City), and O KIA Hanoi.

Article by: Nguyen Hong