Kun Qian


2702 Cathedral of Learning

F: 412-624-3458


  • Ph.D., East Asian Literature, Cornell University
  • M.A., Asian Studies, Cornell University
  • M.S., Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University
  • B.A., Economics, Beijing University, China


  • The Imperial-Time-Order: Literature, Intellectual History, and China's Road to Empire (Brill, 2016)
  • “Gendering National Imagination: Heroines and the Return of the Foundational Family in Shanghai during the War of Resistance to Japan,” Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, January 2014.
  • 后国家和前国家时代的纪念与忘却——近年中文电影对抗日战争的描绘 (Remembering and Forgetting in the Postnational and Pre-national Era: Recent Chinese Films on the War of Resistance to Japan), Wenhua yanjiu 文化研究 (Culture Studies), January 2014.
  • 表演帝国:五六十年代的历史剧 (Staging Empire: Historical Plays in Mao’s China), Xin Wenxue pinglun 新文学评论 (Modern Chinese Literature Criticism), 2013, Vol. 2, 160-168.
  • “Tracing Desire: Cell Phone and the Self-Reflexivity of Contemporary Chinese Media,” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC) Resource Center, May 2011. Available online here.
  • “Pandora’s Box: Time-Image in A Chinese Odyssey and the Becoming of Chinese Cinema,” Asian Cinema, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2011): 308-328.
  • “Love or Hate: The First Emperor on Screen,” Asian Cinema, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2009): 39-67.
  • "The Imperial-Time Regime: The Chinese Empire in the Age of Globalization," Journal of the Southwest Conference on Asian Studies, Volume 6, 2008, 132-153.

Works in Progress

  • “Tianxia Revisited: Family and Empire on the Television Screen,” in Television, Power, and Ideology in Post-Socialist China, ed. Geng Song, Routledge.
  • “Reluctant Transcendence: AIDS and the Catastrophic Condition in Gu Changwei’s Film Love for Life,” in Discourse of Disease, ed. Howard Choy, Brill.

Office Hours

Spring 2018: by appointment


I came to the United States to study economics and finance. Like many young people, I was following my parents’ expectations, intending to become a financial expert. Yet a deeply ingrained love for literature and culture eventually drew me to the field of modern Chinese literature and film. I am most interested in the conjunction of history and literature, taking literary/visual text as a creative site of contested ideologies and discourses, historical consciousness and unconscious, and individual subjectivity and collective agency. I try to discern a paradigmatic pattern of historical thinking beneath the symptomatic manifestations of literature in different time periods. My current research project deals with the ways modern writers and producers have represented pre-modern Chinese empires. Through close readings of the texts in relation to historical contexts, I suggest that revolutionary change and historical continuity have both shaped the imaginations of Chinese Empire, and a deeply-rooted historical way of thinking has helped define reality. In the field of media studies, I am drawn to the relationship between visuality and identity, in particular, the question of how the minority groups (including women, ethnic minorities, and marginal groups in the society) are represented in media, and how these unstable representations are constitutive elements of their identity formation in an increasingly connected global context.