Upcoming Presentations & Talks

April 15, 2019. Bacterial Imaginations: Regime of the Microscope in the 1950s People’s Republic of China


3:30-5:00pm, University Club 212; Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Seeing the enemy was crucial in the early 1950s People’s Republic of China (PRC). Domestic consolidation by the new regime targeted spies, counterrevolutionaries, and bourgeois ideology, hidden yet harmful elements that threatened the health of the new body politic. Meanwhile, the allegation that the United States was using biological weapons in the Korean War brought the PRC to an unexpected encounter with germs, reinforcing the urgency to see, pinpoint, and annihilate the bacterial enemies.

This talk examines the role of the microscope in enabling the power of seeing the enemy in the 1952 anti-germ warfare campaign. Widely used for science education and mass mobilization of the campaign, the microscope visualized, magnified, and exposed the bacteria and by doing so inculcated a mode of seeing that was at once scientific and political. On the other hand, microscopic images of bacteria also triggered imaginations uncontained in the state’s discourse of national security. Understanding the microscope as both an emerging mechanism of hygienic visuality in socialist China and an apparatus of power that produces the socialist subject, I trace the affective ramifications of the microscope from the early twentieth century to the 1950s, and explore how modern China’s traumatic past with diseases and imperialism was projected unto an affirmative image of the new China within and through the logic of visual abjection. By attending to where the regime of the microscope cracks, this talk rethinks the abject and the disavowed in the early PRC’s various purification campaigns. Theoretically, this talk also engages with the agency of the nonhuman—optical technology and microbes—as a formative aspect of socialist subjectivity.

March 22, 2019. “Science on Screen: Visual Truth and Pedagogical Storytelling in China’s Early Educational Films,”

3:45 PM – 5:30 PM, Governor’s Square 10, Plaza Bldg., Concourse Level

Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Denver, Colorado

Panel 171: Two-part Panel: Animating Chinese Scripts in Transmedia Milieux: Part I: Design and Reconstruction of Script

  • Wei Ren, “Writing Characters is Drawing Pictures: The Chinese Script as Language for Modern Design”
  • Lu Liu, “Science on Screen: Visual Truth and Pedagogical Storytelling in China’s Early Educational Films” 
  • Paul Manfredi, “Word-to-Image: Visual Statements of Contemporary Chinese Poets”
  • Lina Qu, “Performing the Women’s Script: Nüshu and the Imagined Female Utopia”

Panel 207, Two-part Panel: Animating Chinese Scripts in Transmedia Milieux: Part II: Performance and Political Participation

  • Man He, “Script to See: Spectatorial Subjects and Cosmopolitan Dramatists in Chinese Realist Theatres of the 1910s-1920s”
  • Renren Yang, “National Form as Spreadable Script: The Performative Turn and Creative Mimesis in Zhao Shuli’s Socialist Fictions”
  • Nan Ma, From Script to Dance: The Adaptation of a Traditional Chinese Play in the “New Dance Movement” in Early-Twentieth-Century Japan and China