Research

Very broadly speaking, I work in the fields of social and cultural history, with forays into the history of children and childhood, women’s studies, urban history, and visual studies. My PhD is in modern Chinese history, but during my graduate training at UC Irvine I did a minor field in world history and sought to situate China in a global framework, rather than regard it as a unique country whose past cannot be spoken of in comparison to any other place.

I have three research projects in various stages of completion:

The project I’m focused on most intensely at the moment is “Wandering Lives: A Story of Art and Politics in 20th-Century China,” the manuscript for a graphic history commissioned by Oxford University Press. Continuing in a series of textbooks begun by Abina and the Important Men, my book will introduce undergraduate students to the life and work of Chinese cartoonist Zhang Leping. This is a collaborative project with artist Liz Clarke: I write the words, she produces phenomenal illustrations.

The second project springs from my dissertation, “Shanghai’s Wandering Ones: Child Welfare in a Global City, 1900–1953.” It examines the history of child welfare work carried out by both Chinese and foreign residents of Shanghai from the turn of the twentieth century through the first years of the People’s Republic of China, paying special attention to changing ideas about childhood and society’s obligation toward the child, as well as how questions about the care of children occasionally entered into the relationship between China and the United States. I do not plan to publish this dissertation as a book, but do want to rework some of the material in it into one or two articles for academic journals. That’s on my calendar for 2017.

My third research project is little more than a stack of random clippings and a few notes right now, but eventually I hope to write a cultural history of Chinese model soldier Lei Feng.

I am an Associate at the University of Michigan’s Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies. For a complete account of my academic and research work, please see my CV.