John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities
Jie Li’s (李潔) research interests center on the mediation of memories in modern China. Her first book, Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Life (Columbia, 2014), excavates a century of memories embedded in two alleyway neighborhoods destined for demolition. Her current book project, Utopian Ruins: A Memory Museum of the Mao Era, explores contemporary cultural memories of the 1950s to the 1970s through textual, audiovisual, and material artifacts, including police files, photographs, documentary films, and museums. Li has co-edited a volume entitled Red Legacies: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution (Harvard Asia Center, 2016). Two ongoing research projects deal with the transnational cinematic history of Manchuria and mobile movie projection units from the 1930s to the 1990s. Li’s recent publications in journals and edited volumes include: “Discolored Vestiges of History: Black-and-White in the Age of Color Cinema” (Journal of Chinese Cinemas, 2012), “A National Cinema for a Puppet State: The Manchurian Motion Picture Association (Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas, 2013), “Phantasmagoric Manchukuo: Documentaries Produced by the South Manchurian Railway Company, 1932-1940” (positions: east asia cultures critique, 2014), and “From Landlord Manor to Red Memorabilia: Reincarnations of a Chinese Museum Town” (Modern China, forthcoming).
Li earned an A.B. in East Asian Studies at Harvard, and studied English literature at the University of Cambridge and German literature at the University of Heidelberg before returning to Harvard for a Ph.D., earned in 2010 in modern Chinese literature and film studies. In 2012-2013 she was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton’s Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. Li teaches courses on East Asian Cinema and on Chinese media cultures.
- Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Life (Columbia University Press, 2014), named one of the ten Best City Books of 2014 by The Guardian and one of the recommended books for modern Chinese history on the historian’s blog Backlist.
- Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution, co-edited with Enhua Zhang (Harvard Asia Center, 2016)
- Utopian Ruins: A Memorial Museum of the Mao Era (Duke University Press, 2020)
- Cinematic Guerrillas: Maoist Propaganda as Revolutionary Spirit Mediumship (under contract with Columbia University Press, forthcoming in 2023)
Recent Articles and Chapters
- “The Hot Noise of Open Air Cinema,” Grey Room, No. 81 (Fall 2020), pp. 6–35.
- “Cinematic Guerrillas in Mao’s China,” Screen, Vol. 61, No. 2 (2020), pp. 207–229.
- “Revolutionary Echoes: Radios and Loudspeakers in the Mao era,” Twentieth-Century China, Vol. 45, No. 1 (2020), pp. 61–75.
- “Gained in Translation: The Reception of Foreign Cinema in the Cultural Revolution,” Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2019), pp. 61–75.
- “1965, July 14: Lin Zhao writes to The People’s Daily in blood,” in David Der-wei Wang, ed., A New Literary History of Modern China (Harvard University Press, 2017)
- “Are Our Drawers Empty? Nie Gannu’s Dossier Literature” in Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures, edited by Carlos Rojas and Andrea Bachner (Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 275–295. [A revised translation in Chinese was published in Modern Chinese Literature (Zhongguo xiandai wenxue), No. 29 (June 2016) pp. 25–46.]
- “1965 Red Prison Files,” A New Literary History of Modern China, edited by David Der–wei Wang (Harvard University Press, 2017), pp. 663–668. [Reprinted in China Heritage, July 2018; Chinese translation of the anthology was published by Taipei’s Rye Field press in 2021.]
- “Mobile Projectionists and the Things They Carried,” Material Contradictions in Mao’s China, edited by Jennifer Altehenger & Denise Y. Ho (University of Washington Press, 2022).
- “The Hot Noise of Open Air Cinema,” Mapping China’s Modern Sensorium, edited by Xuelei Huang & Shengqing Wu (Routledge, 2022) [revised reprint of the 2020 Grey Room journal article.]
- “From Landlord Manor to Red Memorabilia: Reincarnations of a Chinese Museum Town,” coauthored with Denise Y. Ho, Modern China, Vol. 42 (1) (2016), pp. 3-37.
- “Filming Power and the Powerless: Zhao Liang’s Petition and Crime and Punishment,” DV– Made China: Digital Objects, Everyday Subjects, edited by Zhen Zhang & Angela Zito (Hawaii University Press, 2015), pp. 76–96.
- “Dossier Literature” in Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures, ed. Carlos Rojas and Andrea Bachner (Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 275-295. (A revised translation in Chinese is published in Modern Chinese Literature [Zhongguo Xiandai Wenxue], No. 29, June, 2016 pp. 25-46.)
- “Introduction: Discerning Red Legacies in China” in Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution, ed. Jie Li and Enhua Zhang (Harvard University Asia Center, 2016), pp. 1-23.
- “Museums and Memorials of the Mao Era: A Survey with Curatorial Proposals” in Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution, ed. Jie Li and Enhua Zhang (Harvard University Asia Center, 2016), pp. 319-354.
- “Writing from Revolution’s Debris: Shen Congwen’s Family Letters in the Mao Era” in A History of Chinese Letters and Epistolary Culture, ed. Antje Richter (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 582-617.
- “Phantasmagoric Manchukuo: Documentaries Produced by the South Manchurian Railway Company, 1932-1940,” positions: east asia cultures critique, Vol. 22, 2014, pp. 329-369.
- “A National Cinema for a Puppet State: the Manchurian Motion Picture Association” in Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas, ed. Eileen Cheng-yin Chow & Carlos Rojas (Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 79-97.
- “Discoloured Vestiges of History: Black-and-White in the Age of Color Cinema,” Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2012, pp. 247-262.
- “Has Chinese Propaganda Won Hearts and Minds?” in Michael Szonyi, ed., The China Questions (Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2017)
- “My Grandparents’ Shanghai Home: A Guided Tour,” Harvard Design Magazine, No. 41, F/W 2015.
- Review of Amy Jane Barnes’ Museum Representations of Maoist China: From Cultural Revolution to Commie Kitsch for The China Quarterly, 2015, Issue 222, pp. 583-585.
- “Re-envisioning the Chinese Cityscape: Tabula Rasa and Palimpsest,” review essay on Chang-tai Hung, Mao’s New World and Yomi Braester, Painting the City Red, in Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, E-Journal No. 5 (December 2012), pp. 170-179.
- Review of Sheldon H. Lu and Jianyan Mi (eds.), Chinese Ecocinema in the Age of Environmental Challenge. China Perspectives, 2012/3, pp. 89-90.
- Harvard exhibit showcases Chinese posters hidden for 50 years, Wicked Local, 2017
- 1960s-Era Chinese Political Posters Put on Display at Fairbank Center, Harvard Crimson, 2017
- Video Lecture: Black and Red Revolution: Dazibao and Woodcuts from 1960s China, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, 2017
- What a Picture of China’s One-Child Policy Leaves Out, ChinaFile, 2020
- On the Chinese Cultural Revolution: Thought Exercises for the 21st Century, Los Angeles Review of Books, 2021