Enduring the Long Take: Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs (2013) and the Dialectical Image

February 05, 2018

This paper attempts to show that Stray Dogs offers a social critique of Taipei as a neoliberal, global, consumer city and by so doing establishes a cinema of contemplation through such signature cinematic devices as the sustained long-take and slow, virtually still cinematic images. By developing Walter Benjamin’s formulation of the dialectical image and criticism of the flâneur, this paper explores the extent to which the extreme slow image created by Tsai reveals an aspect of the city which cannot be shown otherwise, arguing that Tsai’s slow cinema creates a potentially revolutionary awakening in the audience who is too accustomed to the immersive mode of cinematic experience which turns the suffering of others into a commodity and prevents an understanding of a societal phenomenon that calls for our urgent attention. Marginalized figures in such nineteenth-century literary texts as Dickens’s Sketches by Boz (1836), Baudelaire’s pose poem “God Dogs” (1865-67), and Hamsun’s Hunger (1890), and such Sinophone films as Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Sandwich Man (1983), and Jia Zhang-he’s Xiao Wu (1997) are analyzed comparatively.


Louis Lo is Associate Professor at the Department of English, National Taipei University of Technology. He obtained his PhD in Comparative Literature from The University of Hong Kong. His research interests include the history of ideas, the representation of cities in literature and films, and Asian cinema. He is the author of Male Jealousy: Literature and Film (Continuum, 2008), and co-author and photographer (with Jeremy Tambling) of Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque (Hong Kong University Press, 2009). His latest chapter on literature and the city appears in Palgrave Handbook of Literature and the City (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). A collection of his London black-and-white photographs can be found in Tambling’s Going Astray: Dickens and London (Longman, 2009).


  • David See-chai Lam Centre
  • Taiwan Studies Group, Department of History

Monday, February 5, 2018

3:00 - 4:30PM

SFU Burnaby 
Academic Quadrangle 
AQ 6229
8888 University Drive

Please register here.