Xinyu Dong, University of Chicago

Assistant Professor Chicago, Illinois xinyud@uchicago.edu Office: (773) 702-3178

Bio/Research

My main area of interest is the aesthetic history of Chinese-language cinema, with dual emphasis on its interaction with international film styles on the one hand and with Chinese visual and performing arts on the other. Genre has been my favored means of intervention as a theoretically charged n...

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Bio/Research

My main area of interest is the aesthetic history of Chinese-language cinema, with dual emphasis on its interaction with international film styles on the one hand and with Chinese visual and performing arts on the other. Genre has been my favored means of intervention as a theoretically charged notion and as a rich set of historically specific practices across media and cultural boundaries. My first book (in Chinese, 2000), Between Seeing and Being Seen: A Cultural History of Chinese Silent Cinema, is one of the firsts to rewrite early Chinese film history from both transnational and art historical perspectives, focusing on Shanghai cinema’s gravitation toward melodrama during the silent era. My second book, The Comic Avant-garde: A Forgotten History of Chinese Cinema and Interwar Modernism (forthcoming 2017), excavates Chinese filmmakers’ avant-garde practices through the genre of comedy during the interwar period. This discovery of a comic avant-garde within Chinese leftist cinema between 1934-1937 crystallizes a local utopian discourse on modern mass entertainment developed since the 1920s, as well as the changing manifestation of the international cinematic avant-garde in the 1930s. At present, I’m engaged in two research projects: the first one considers the aesthetic legacy of the genre experiments conducted by a group of Chinese filmmakers that I call the “Peking opera generation,” whose careers bridged the 1949 divide; the second project charts the convergence of play forms in contemporary Chinese art cinema, including ritual performances, youth culture, and, not least, genre-mixing games.

In June 2012, I co-organized (with Paola Iovene and Judith Zeitlin) an international conference, “Chinese Opera Film: At the Intersection of Theater, Cinema, and Politics,” held at the University of Chicago Center in Beijing. I also curated a “Chinese Opera Film Series” at the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center that ran from March to May in 2014, in conjunction with the exhibition, Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture (co-curated by Judith Zeitlin and Yuhang Li) at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art. I’m currently in the process of co-editing with Jonathan Rosenbaum a special issue of the Journal of Chinese Cinemas, showcasing a range of recent work on Chinese film comedy, scheduled for publication in 2018.


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