New series starting on 7 March on Channel 4:
Gok Wan is travelling back to his ancestral home to explore the largely unseen world of Chinese mass production, and meet the people working in the factories that supply the West.
China is a manufacturing colossus and Britons are surrounded by products “Made in China” every day – from cotton bed sheets to toothbrushes, mobile phones and even London black cabs. The Chinese manage to produce goods cheaply yet they are well made – how are they able to manufacture such enormous volumes of products the UK is now so dependent on?
Gok heads to China to find out more about the people and places behind those three little words “Made in China”. His journey is both personal, as he visits the village his father grew up in for the first time, and a journey of discovery into how the country now produces one in every four man-made objects on the planet.
He visits Xintang, also known as ‘Jeans Town’, an entire town dedicated to making 260 million pairs of jeans every year; ‘Bra Town’ where millions of bras up to 52DD size are churned out for women in Britain and the rest of the world; and he makes a trip to the factory that now makes that most iconic of British products – the London Taxi.
Gok also discovers the surreal side of China’s obsession with copying, with a trip to Thames Town, a perfect replica of an entire English market town complete with its own Oxford Street, Georgian terraces and village green. His journey ends in the ultra-modern city of Shanghai where he meets a stylist pushing the boundaries in Chinese fashion.
(Thanks to Kate Pickering for the tip
This week sees a slight swapping round of the schedule.
Wednesday 29 February
10.00am: Calligraphy workshop for groups 6-8 (Hub 1)
Friday 2 March
10.00am: Calligraphy Workshop for groups 3-5 (Textiles Room)
2.00pm: Lecture in Dalhousie 2F11
We then revert to the usual schedule of Wednesday lectures!
Friday 9 March
10.00am: Calligraphy workshop for groups 1-2 (in Hub 1).
2.00pm: “Open” calligraphy workshop – please let Danielle know if you want to attend this so she can prepare. This is for those who want to get some more practice or try something experimental.
NB: The cancelled ceramics workshop is on 16 March from 9.30am in Hub 1.
Update – 2 March workshop is now in the Textiles Room
What with all the TV programmes last week about China and the sudden rush of articles in the papers about the place, I’ve been thinking someone somewhere knew this module was just starting.
Last week I noticed The Economist has just launched a new weekly section on China. As Roy Greenslade in The Guardian reports:
The Economist has introduced a weekly section devoted to the coverage of China.
In a leader announcing the move, the magazine said it is the first time since 1942 – when the US section was introduced – that it is dedicating an entire section to a single country. It continued:
“The principal reason is that China is now an economic superpower and is fast becoming a military force capable of unsettling America.
But our interest in China lies also in its politics: it is governed by a system that is out of step with global norms.
In ways that were never true of post-war Japan and may never be true of India, China will both fascinate and agitate the rest of the world for a long time to come.”
The magazine’s Asian blog, Banyan, announced a competition to provide a name for its new blog on China.
The library gets The Economist every week and the web site is in the blog links on the left. Well worth a browse every now and then. And why not enter the competition to name the new blog?
Please bring a pair of scissors and some red (or pink) craft paper with you on Wednesday…
All will be revealed.
iTunes U, available via the iTunes store, offers many podcasts and lectures on aspects of China. It’s well worth checking out. Recently Apple launched a new app for iPhone and iPad that allows you to subscribe to courses offered via the service. One of the first to be launched is an introduction to China from the Open University.
The iTunes U interface (shown here on the iPhone) looks like a dark bookshelf and you can add courses from the “Catalog” button (yes, they spelt it wrong…)
The “Introduction to China” course consists of snippets from other courses such as the OU’s “Beginner’s Mandarin” module. The whole thing covers topics such as doing business in China, the Chinese economy and a basic introduction to the language and culture.
The interface is easy to use. The “Materials” button lists all the different components: PDFs, videos, audio, even apps. You can download the different materials when you need them and they’ll be stored on your phone or iPad, or in your computer’s iTunes library.
The “Posts” button is the one you’ll use the most. It lists everything in order and tells you what to do, the questions to bear in mind as you watch or listen to the materials.
At the end of the course (which is quite short, being just a taster) there’s a quiz book with questions that test your understanding of the topic.
This isn’t the only course that’s available on iTunes U – there’s stuff on programming, history, design, textiles in Africa and more so it’s well worth checking out. If you have an iPhone or iPad, I recommend getting the free iTunes U app, and downloading the Introduction to China course – it fits in really well with this module so give it a go.
As I’ll explain in the first lecture, I’ve set up a Dropbox folder to share important files with students on the module. In order to get access you’ll need to provide me with a bit of information using this form. (If you’re not a student on the module, ignore this post!)
If you already have a Dropbox account, you’ll get instant access. If not, wait until you receive an invitation and you’ll be taken through the process. It’s free, and very useful!
You’ll also be invited to be a contributor to this blog (again, more info in the lecture). On the form I ask you if you already have a WordPress account. If you don’t you’ll need to set one up which you can either do now, or wait until you receive the invitation and do it then.
Fill in the form by the end of week one. In fact, why not do it now?!
If you’re raring to go, I’m publishing the module outline this weekend and should have it all up by the end of Sunday. Each week has its own page which includes a brief outline of what we’ll be covering, the set reading, and additional recommended reading and viewing.
(Update: It’s all up!)
If you want to get ahead, try to complete each week’s reading before that week’s lecture (i.e. you should have read as much as you can before the Wednesday of each week). That will help you get the most of each lecture and be able to ask questions.
The pattern for the module is: lectures on Wednesday mornings (10am – noon) and Friday set aside for workshops (details in week 1), visiting lecturers, or self-directed study. Full details in the first lecture.
Take a look at the outline using the menu above or go straight there.