Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Xuelei Huang

Chancellor's Fellow - Lecturer

Profile photo

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Chinese cinema, media and print culture, modern Chinese history

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Heidelberg


Dr Huang Xuelei took up the post of Chancellor's Fellow in Chinese Studies in September 2013.

Huang Xuelei studied at Fudan University (BA) and Peking University (MA) in China, and received her PhD with summa cum laude from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Her dissertation entitled "Commercializing Ideologies: Intellectuals and Cultural Production at the Mingxing (Star) Motion Picture Company, 1922-1938" (supervisor: Prof. Barbara Mittler) was awarded the Ruprecht Karls Prize in 2011. Before taking up her current position at Edinburgh she was a post-doctoral researcher at Academia Sinica in Taiwan, a research fellow at the Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies and the International Research Centre for Cultural Studies in Vienna (IFK). She was awarded fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Gerda Henkel Foundation in Germany.

Dr Huang's recent book entitled Shanghai Filmmaking: Crossing Borders, Connecting to the Globe, 1922-1938 (Brill 2014, xvi+381 pp) examines early Chinese cinema culture and sheds new light on the power of popular cultural production during China’s modern transformation. Her current research project focuses on a social and cultural history of smell in modern China. She attempts to explore the roles of sensory/olfactory experience in the shaping of modern social imaginaries.

Research Interests

Dr Huang's research interests mainly focus on cultural history of modern China, including several intersected areas:

1. early Chinese cinema

Dr Huang is particularly interested in understanding institutional dimensions of cinema and cinema's engagement with society and culture. She has 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. Plans for future research include distribution and exhibition networks of early Chinese cinema in interior China and Southeast Asia.

2. print culture and drama

Dr Huang is also interested in print culture and drama which had close interactions with cinema in the Republican era (1911-1949). She prefers to look at popular cultural production as a network within which different media and cultural forms intimately engaged with each other. Meanwhile, she proposes to examine cultural phenomena in Republican China in the context of cultural flows between Europe, North America and East Asia in this time of early globalization.

3. urban history and sensory history

This is a new field that Dr Huang plans to pursue in her current book project on the social history of smell in China. She's interested in the question how sensory experiences influenced people's perception of the other, the West, modernity, and a series related issues that shaped China's recent history. 


Research activities & awards

  1. Hippodrome Silent Film Festival

    Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

  2. Where is China in the World? Going Beyond Cultures to Get Past Post-Colonialism

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

  3. The Stagnant Ditch and the Politics of Deodorizing China

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

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