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Personal profile

Research Interests

My research is centered on three interrelated threads: the intersections of performance, politics, and popularity in modern China, modern Japan, and the international avant-garde; the interactions among folk, urban, and popular cultures and political propaganda; and gender and class representations in literary, performing, cinematic, and visual arts. For the past fifteen years, I have conducted interdisciplinary, multilingual and multi-site research in Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Furukawa, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Stockholm, Nijmegen, Leipzig, Heidelberg, Leiden, Taiwan, and Seoul in the broadly-defined fields of modern Chinese literature and culture, modern Japanese studies, performance studies, modernist studies, comparative literature, and cultural studies. 

My first book, The Avant-garde and the Popular in Modern China: Tian Han and the Intersection of Performance and Politics (Michigan 2014), reveals avant-garde performance as an important political force shaped by, and in turn shaping, popular culture in modern China. The insights gained from writing my first book informed two ongoing projects. In my second book, The Global White Snake (Michigan, 2021), I set out to further explore the intersections of feminine performance, gender politics, and popular culture through the multimedia metamorphoses of the White Snake tale in the context of the Cold War and contemporary culture. In my third book and documentary film project, Profound Propaganda: The International Avant-Garde and Modern China, I attempt to harvest the rich findings regarding the relationship between the international avant-garde and modern China in my first book and extend its critical engagement both historically and globally.


After receiving my BA in Chinese language and literature and MA in comparative literature from Beijing Normal University, I completed a Ph.D. program at Harvard University with the support of a Harvard-Yenching Doctoral Fellowship. I studied Japanese at Harvard and went to Tokyo with the support of a Reischauer Institute Fellowship, where I participated in research seminars led by the late Professor Maruyama Noboru and Professor Fujii Shozo at Tokyo University. A leave from the University of Kentucky allowed me to conduct research at Stockholm University, visit archives in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and deliver lectures at Heidelberg University. A National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend enabled me to exchange ideas with Professors Russell A. Berman, Ban Wang, and participants at the NEH summer seminar on interwar modernisms in Shanghai and Berlin at Stanford University.

I have been teaching modern and classical Chinese language, modern and contemporary Chinese literature, comparative East Asian literature, gender politics in Chinese literature and culture, and Chinese film and popular culture since 1997 in China and since 2002 in the United States. I received a “Certificate of Distinction in Teaching” at Harvard University for my contribution to undergraduate teaching, working with Professor Leo Ou-fan Lee in “Cultural China in Contemporary Perspectives,” a course on Chinese cultures from Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia and throughout the world. I was also honored with a Presidential Instructional Technology Fellowship at Harvard, and worked closely with other instructors to bring technology into classroom teaching. Over the past ten years, I have supervised students and advised theses in East Asian Studies, Social Studies, modern Chinese literature, media representation of the Chinese Diaspora, cultures of the Second Sino-Japanese War, among other subjects and fields.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Harvard University


Master of Arts, Beijing Normal University


Bachelor of Arts, Beijing Normal University


External positions

Chair, Modern and Contemporary Chinese Forum, The Modern Language Association


Distinguished Visiting Professor, Tianjin Normal University



  • AS Academies and learned societies (General)
  • AZ History of Scholarship The Humanities
  • ML Literature of music
  • NX Arts in general
  • PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
  • PN1993 Motion Pictures
  • PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
  • PS American literature
  • PE English


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