Xuelei Huang

Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies

Background

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. Before taking up her current position in Edinburgh she 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). She was awarded the Ruprecht Karls Prize for her PhD dissertation, and received fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Gerda Henkel Foundation in Germany.

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

Undergraduate teaching

  • Media and Visual Culture in Modern China (ASST10151)
  • Chinese Silent Cinema, 1920-1935 (ASST10138)
  • Modern China in Literature and Film (ASST08034)
  • Modern East Asian History B (ASST08043)

Postgraduate teaching

Introduction to Chinese Society and Culture (ASST11046)

Media and Visual Culture in Modern China (ASST11106)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Areas of interest for supervision

  • Chinese cinema
  • print culture, drama, literature in modern China
  • social/cultural history of modern China

Research summary

Dr Huang's research interests mainly focus on the cultural and social 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. 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

View all 33 activities on Research Explorer

View all 14 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

  • “Sensorial Reeducation: Sentinels under the Neon Lights and Didactic Tropes in Mao's Revolution,” workshop “Didactic Literature and Film from Reformist and Revolutionary Asia,” University of Newcastle, Jun. 2019.
  • “想象的自我/他者:民國上海電影文化中的南洋敘事,”「從人文到數位人文──華人文化研究的新趨勢與新方法」, National Chengchi University, Taiwan, Nov. 2018.
  • “China Stinks? Towards a Sensory Rethinking of (Post-)Colonialism”, workshop “Where is China in the World? Going Beyond Cultures to Get Past Post-Colonialism”, University of Heidelberg, Feb. 2018.
  • “Aromas of the Red Chamber: The material culture of perfume and olfactory/literary imagination in eighteenth-century China”, British Association for Chinese Studies annual conference, University of Glasgow, Sept. 2017.
  • “Nanyang (Southeast Asia): The Physical Other, the Imaginary Self in the World of Shanghai Cinema, 1910s-1940s,” AAS-in-Asia annual conference, Seoul, Jul. 2017.
  • “Kant, Stinking Fish, and the Feeling of Disgust: The Politics of Smell in China, 1800s-1940s,” Conference “Qing/Emotion, Mobility and East Asian Modernity,” National Tsing Hua University and National Central University, Taiwan, Dec. 2016.
  • Public lecture “Chinese Silent Cinema: A Historical Tour,” The Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema, Bo’ness, Mar. 2016.

  • “Marginalized Voices of the Everyday: Jia Zhitan and His Village Documentaries,” AAS Annual Conference, Seattle, Mar. 2016.

  • “Odours of the Other: An Anatomy of Chinese Smells under Western Noses,” Workshop “Dimensions of Mobility: Travel and Adventure in Modern China’s Literary and Cultural Landscape,” University of Edinburgh, Jun. 2015; British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS), University of Leeds, Sept. 2015; Workshop “Comparative Perspectives on Senses, Sensibilities, and Sentiment,” Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, May 2016.

  • “Hong Shen in the Popular Press, 1924–1949,” European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS), Braga, July 2014.

  • “Bringing the Real to the Reel: Realism and Silent Filmmaking in a Globalizing World, 1910s–1920s,” East Asian Screen Studies Symposium, King’s College London, May 2014.
  • “Mediating, Interlinking, and Multitasking: Hong Shen at the Mingxing (Star) Motion Picture Company, 1925-1937,” Symposium “Hong Shen and the Modern Mediasphere in Republican Era China,” The Ohio State University, Nov. 2013
  • “Odors of Nanjing Road: The Cultural Life of Smell in Modern China, 1840s–1940s”, AAS Annual Conference, San Diego, Mar. 2013 (as organizer of the panel “Senses Make Sense: Seeing, Hearing, Touching, Tasting and Smelling in Chinese Everyday Life, 1870s-1990s”)
  • Lecture “(De)odorizing China: The Changing Smellscapes of Nanjing Road in Shanghai, 1840s–1940s”, IFK Vienna, Apr. 2013; Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies, Feb. 2013
  • “The Banality of the Sublime: Consuming Soviet Movies in Pre-Socialist China”, AAS Annual Conference, Toronto, Mar. 2012; Conference “Trends on the Move: Transcultural Dimensions of Popular Flows”, Heidelberg University, Oct. 2011
  • “Ideologies of the Leg: Women’s Legs and Changing Prototypes of the Ideal Woman on China’s Silver Screen (1920s–1970s)”, Annual Conference of the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence “Frontiers of Knowledge: Health, Environment and the History of Science,” Oct. 2011
  • “A Factory of Chinese Dreams: The Mingxing Motion Picture Company and the Early Chinese Film Industry, 1922–1938,” Conference “Traditional Chinese Business Culture and its Modern Fate”, Academia Sinica and Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea, Jul. 2011
  • “A Theater on the Border: ‘Spatial Practices’ of Transculturality of the Isis Theater, 1917–1937”, Symposium “Spaces of Asian Cinemas,” University of California, Davis, Nov. 2009
  • “Jade Pear Spirit: From Page to Screen”, Conference “Eighth International Conference for Junior Scholars of Chinese Studies: Print and Culture in Modern China,” Chengchi University, Taiwan, Mar. 2009
  • “Good Women? Bad Women? Women’s Images in Butterfly, Left-wing and Right-wing Films”, Workshop “The Common People and the Artist in the 1930s,” Heidelberg University, Dec. 2008
  • “From East Lynne to Konggu lan”, Workshop “Rethinking Trends,” Heidelberg University, Nov. 2008
  • “China’s First Film? The Canonization of The Difficult Couple,” Conference “Locality, Translocality, and De-Locality: Cultural, Aesthetic, and Political Dynamics of Chinese-Language Cinema”, Shanghai University, Jul. 2008; Conference “Re-examining Early Chinese Cinema”, Hong Kong University and Hong Kong Film Archives, Dec. 2009

Invited speaker

  • “The Politics of Smell: Language, Olfactory Metaphor, and the Chinese Revolution,” Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, University of St. Andrews, Feb. 2019.
  • “Touring Nanyang/Southeast Asia: Body, Performativity, and Cosmopolitanism in Early Chinese Film History,” King’s College London Film Studies Seminar, Feb. 2019.
  • “The Stagnant Ditch and the Politics of Deodorizing China”, University of Oxford China Centre, Jan. 2018.
  • “康德、臭鱼与恶心感:晚清西人游记中的中国气味”, Peking University, Jun. 2017; National Chengchi University, Taiwan, Nov. 2018.
  • “Perfuming China: The Modern Cosmetics Industry and Changing Smellscapes in China, 1850s–1940s,” University of Leicester, Feb. 2015; University of Aberdeen, Mar. 2015; SOAS, Feb. 2016.

Organiser

  • International conference “In the Realm of the Senses: Mapping China’s Modern Sensorium” (co-organised with Shengqing Wu), University of Edinburgh, 19-20 June 2018.
  • International conference “Qing/Emotion, Mobility and East Asian Modernity” (co-organised with Guan Kean-Fung and Lu Wen-tsuei), National Tsing Hua University and National Central University, Taiwan, Dec. 2016.
  • International Workshop “Dimensions of Mobility: Travel and Adventure in Modern China’s Literary and Cultural Landscape,” University of Edinburgh, Jun. 2015 (co-organised with Chia-ling Yang and Christopher Rosenmeier).