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Chinese cinema, media and print culture, cultural history of modern China

Personal profile


I studied at Fudan University (BA) and Peking University (MA) in China, and received my PhD with summa cum laude from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. I joined the University of Edinburgh as a Chancellor's Fellow, and became a Lecturer in 2016, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2019. Before taking up my position in Edinburgh I was a post-doctoral researcher at Academia Sinica in Taiwan, a research fellow at the Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies in France and the International Research Centre for Cultural Studies in Vienna (IFK). I was awarded the Ruprecht Karls Prize for my PhD dissertation, and received fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Gerda Henkel Foundation, and Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, among others.

My current research focuses on sensory history in modern China. My forthcoming book, provisionally entitled The Social Life of Smell in Modern China (Cambridge University Press),  revisits modern Chinese history through the “perspective” of the nose. I critically interrogates what has been an olfactory revolution in modern China, one that intimately interacted with other forms of socio-political revolution from the late Qing dynasty to the Mao era. Drawing on a wide array of archival material and literary texts, this study is an anatomy of how microscopic molecular processes of smelling ran deeply beneath everyday social interactions, bringing to light complex socio-corporeal dynamics underlying the untold stories of stinking ditches, artificial scents, sexual odours, and foul class enemies. I have also co-edited a volume (with Shengqing Wu) entitled Sensing China: Modern Transformations of Sensory Culture (Routledge, 2022). Bringing together twelve articles by internationally renowned scholars, this book explores the deeply rooted meanings that the senses have ingrained in the culture and society of modern China.

Another field of my research is early Chinese cinema and media culture. I have published widely on this subject, including the monograph Shanghai Filmmaking: Crossing Borders, Connecting to the Globe, 1922-1938 (Brill, 2014), which sheds new light on early Chinese film culture through a case study of the Mingxing (Star) Motion Picture Company, one of the most influential film studios in early Chinese film history. My research interest also includes theatre, print media, and visual culture in modern China.

Research Interests

My research field is the cultural and social history of modern China, including several intersected areas:

1. sensory history

This is a new field that I am pursuing in my forthcoming books on olfactory history and modern sensorium in China. My works probe the dyanmic relationships between power, the body, and the senses, exploring such questions as how sensory perception shapes and is shaped by major sociopolitical forces in history, and how microscopic everydayness interacts with grand narratives of history through the mediator of the sensorium.

2. early Chinese cinema

I am particularly interested in understanding institutional dimensions of cinema and cinema's engagement with society and culture. I have studied the history of an early Chinese film studio (the Mingxing Film Company), a movie theatre (Isis Theatre) and its role in colonial relationships, and exhibition and reception of Soviet movies in Republican China, among other topics.

3. print culture and drama

I am also interested in print culture and drama which had close interactions with cinema in the Republican era (1911-1949). I look at popular cultural production as a network within which different media and cultural forms engaged with each other. At the same time, I examine cultural phenomena in Republican China in the context of global cultural flows in this time of early globalization.


Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Heidelberg

Award Date: 5 Aug 2009


  • DS Asia
  • China
  • Cinema
  • modern history
  • media
  • sensory studies

College Research Themes

  • Cultural Heritage


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