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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Presentation Details

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Imprisoned Humanity: The Panopticon, Media and Chinese Face.

Yong-Kang Wei.

Drawing on the theory of poststructuralism, especially the notion of panopticism by Foucault, I will explore human existence as a disciplined response to the controlling mechanism of society. Such a mechanism, however, could be subtle. In Western society, it could find its way into the media that manipulate the projection of reality; in Chinese culture, it could manifest itself in the form of saving face. In the proposed presentation, I will first discuss Foucaultís panopticism and draw its parallelism to the Chinese concept of face. Then, I will address the impact of the media on the perception of reality and point out how modern society further alienates people from their 'human essence', if any, by pushing them to live up to that perceived reality. I will base my argument on the analysis of two American films: Mad City and 15 Minutes. Finally, I will explore Conradís Heart of Darkness and suggest that there seems to be no alternatives. Human existence is in nature an imprisoned existence.


Yong-Kang Wei  (United States)
Ph. D. candidate in Rhetoric and Professional Commununiation

Iowa State University

Mr. Yong-Kang Wei is a Ph. D. candidate in Rhetoric and Professional Communication at Iowa State University. His research interests cover intercultural communication, non-Western rhetoric, business and technical communication, and rhetorical theory. He has presented papers at various conferences and was the winner of First Place Award at the Conference on Corporate Communication held in England in 2002.

  • Poststructuralism
  • Panopticism
  • Media
  • Chinese Face

(30 min Conference Paper, English)