Stephen McDowall

DR

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am happy to consider applications from outstanding students interested in researching aspects of the social and cultural histories of late imperial China, or of China in Western imaginations since 1700. I would particularly welcome enquiries from students interested in the material and visual manifestations of the latter.

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Personal profile

Research Interests

I am a cultural and social historian, specialising in late-imperial China and global connections.  My interests include landscape and historical memory, Sino-British relations, the cultures of travel, the long Ming-Qing transition, China in the early modern European imagination, and the material and visual cultures of global connections. 

My first book, Qian Qianyi’s Reflections on Yellow Mountain: Traces of a Late-Ming Hatchet and Chisel (2009), challenged conventional scholarship on the Chinese youji 游記 (travel record), and attempted to re-cast the genre as a culturally-creative discursive practice.  My latest article (Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies) revisits the practice of touring in seventeenth-century China, this time through the lens of the inherited cultural trauma produced by the Ming-Qing transition. 

My current research concerns the ways in which visual signifiers of ‘Chineseness’ functioned in British culture from the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries, a subject I explore in articles for Cultural and Social History and the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and which builds upon the previous research I conducted with Professor Anne Gerritsen (Journal of World History).  I am particularly interested in non-textual sources, including photographs, postcards, advertisements, theatre programmes and other ephemera, and the material practices that give such objects their meaning.  This is the subject of my second book project, and also a significant part of my Honours-level special subject, 'Chinese Whispers: China in Western Minds since 1300' (HIST10438).

I serve on the Council of the British Association for Chinese Studies and the Board of the Society for Ming Studies, and am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  

For more information about my role within the School of History, Classics & Archaeology, see my departmental webpage.

Keywords

  • DS Asia
  • China
  • Ming dynasty
  • Qing dynasty
  • Landscape
  • Travel
  • Global connections
  • Literature
  • Art history
  • Material culture
  • Photography

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