Shu-chin Tsui

Professor of Asian Studies and Cinema Studies

On leave for 2018-19 academic year

My research interests extend across interdisciplinary fields, such as film studies, cultural studies, and visual art studies, with a focus on gender politics. My first book, Women Through the Lens: Gender and Nation in a Century of Chinese Cinema, demonstrates how woman, as visual image and discursive element, was appropriated in the construction of the nation-state throughout the twentieth century in China. My second book, Gendered Bodies: Toward A Women’s Visual Art in Contemporary China, examines how women artists use the body, especially the female body, to engender self-expression and deal with social-political issues. In addition to scholarly publications, an art exhibition in 2013, curated as a team and titled Break Through: Women Artists and Works in Contemporary China, has been a career highlight at Bowdoin. 

At Bowdoin I offer various courses that spring from my research trips to China and subsequent scholarly publications. Courses I am passionately devoted to include “Ecocinema: China’s Ecological and Environmental Crisis,” “Hollywood Imagination of Asia,” “China Urban: Art and Architecture,” “The Cultural Revolution through Film,” and “Fashion and Gender in China,” as well as other content courses and an advanced language course. 


  • Ph.D., Cinema and Culture Studies , University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, MI, 1996
  • M.A., American Culture , University of Michigan, Program in American Culture; Ann Arbor, MI, 1989
  • M.A., Chinese Literature , University of Wisconsin-Madison Dept. of East Asian Languages and Literatures, 1987
  • B.A., , English Xi'an University of Foreign Language Studies Xian, China Department of English, 1982

PDF Curriculum Vitae


Gendered Bodies: Toward A Women's Visual Art in Contemporary China, University of Hawaii Press, 2015


Gendered Bodies introduces readers to women's visual art in contemporary China by examining how the visual process of gendering reshapes understandings of historiography, sexuality, pain, and space. When artists take the body as the subject of female experience and the medium of aesthetic experiment, they reveal a wealth of noncanonical approaches to art. The insertion of women's narratives into Chinese art history rewrites a historiography that has denied legitimacy to the woman artist. The gendering of sexuality reveals that the female body incites pleasure in women themselves, reversing the dynamic from woman as desired object to woman as desiring subject. The gendering of pain demonstrates that for those haunted by the sociopolitical past, the body can articulate traumatic memories and psychological torment. The gendering of space transforms the female body into an emblem of landscape devastation, remaps ruin aesthetics, and extends the politics of gender identity into cyberspace and virtual reality.

The work presents a critical review of women's art in contemporary China in relation to art traditions, classical and contemporary. Inscribing the female body into art generates not only visual experimentation, but also interaction between local art/cultural production and global perception. While artists may seek inspiration and exhibition space abroad, they often reject the (Western) label "feminist artist." An extensive analysis of artworks and artists—both well- and little-known—provides

Gendered Bodies

readers with discursively persuasive and visually provocative evidence. Gendered Bodies follows an interdisciplinary approach that general readers as well as scholars will find inspired and inspiring. 114 color and 2 black & white


“Gendered Bodies is a groundbreaking work, a definitive study of contemporary 

Chinese women’s art written in any language. It is filled with critical insight, abundant details, and an intimate knowledge of the current art scene. The book is a must-read for anyone who hopes to understand art and women’s aspirations in contemporary China.” —Sheldon Lu, University of California, Davis

women through the lens

Women Through the Lens: Gender and Nation in a Century of Chinese Cinema,University of Hawaii Press, 2003.

Read the introductionPDF (PDF)

Journal Articles & Book Chapters

“Trash Flow: Plastic Discourse and Ecodocumentary Making against Transnational Mode” (流动的垃圾:跨国语境下的垃圾话语建构及影像生成-析王久良纪录作品 “塑料王国) Chinese Ecocinema, edited by Sheldon Lu and Haomin Gong [forthcoming].

“Chai Jing's Under the Dome: A Multimedia Docuentary in the Digital Age” Journal of Chinese Cinemas (2016): 1-16.

“The Pregnant Nude and Photographic Representation,” in New Modern Chinese Women and Gender Politics, ed. by Ya-chen Chen, Routledge Press, 2014. Reprinted in Women’s Studies 43 (2014): 993-1021.

“Wrapped Body and Masked Face: Female Subject Formation in Liu Manwen’s Self-Portraiture” [Book chapter from Breakthrough].

“Breakthrough: Artists and Works,” Catalogue Essay, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2013: 2-7.

“The Return of the Repressed: Masculinity and Sexuality Reconsidered,” in A Companion to Chinese Cinema, ed. by Yingjin Zhang, Blackwell Publishing, 2012: 499-517.

“The Search for Female Sexuality and the Negotiation with Feminism: Li Yu’s Film Trilogy,” in Chinese Women’s Cinema: Transnational Contexts, ed. by Lingzhen Wang (Columbia University Press, 2010): 213-234.

“Alternative Visions and Representation: Independent Documentary Filmmaking in Contemporary China,” Journal of Documentary Cinema (February, 2010): 3-20.

“Kekexili: Moral Dilemma and a Man with a Camera,” Chinese Films in Focus-2, ed. by Chris Berry (London: BFI Publishing, 2008): 153-160.

"Negotiating In-Between: On New-Generation Filmmaking and Jia Zhangke's Films," Journal of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, 18-2 (2006): 98-130, reprinted in Chinese Cinema after a Century: The Interplay of Art, Politics and Commerce, Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, 2010.

"Ning Ying's Beijing Trilogy: Cinematic Configuration of Age, Class and Sexuality" in The Urban Generation:
Chinese Cinema and Society at the Turn of the 21st Century
, (Duke University Press, 2006): 241-263.

"Raise the Red Lantern: Cinematic Orient and Female Conflict" in Film Analysis: A Norton Reader, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005: 830-849.

Contributor, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture, Routledge Press, 2005.

contemporary chinese culture  film analysis   chinese language film

"Walking from the Margins and Outside the System: Independent Film Directors in Contemporary China," Post Script 20-2 (Winter/Spring 2001): 77-93, reprinted in Chinese Language Film: Historiography, Poetics, Politics, University of Hawaii Press: 2005.

Read the table of contentsPDF and/or the introductionPDF (PDF).

hong kong cinema"Stanley Kwan's Center Stage: The (Im)possible Engagement between Feminism and Postmodernism," Cinema Journal 39-4 (Summer 2000): 60-80, reprinted in Between Home and World: A Reader in Hong Kong Cinema, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Contributor (30 entries on Fifth-generation films), 
Encyclopedia of Chinese Film
, Routledge Press, 1998.

transitional chinese cinema"Gendered Perspectives: The Construction of Subjectivity

and Sexuality in Ju Dou," in Sheldon H. Lu, ed. 
Transnational Chinese Cinema:
Identity, Nationhood, Gender

University of Hawaii Press, 1997, 303-330.

"Desire in Difference: Female Voice and Point of View in Army NurseAnnual of Film and Literature, Vol. II (Summer 1996): 63-72.

Book Reviews

Review essay on From Underground to Independent: Alternative Film Culture in Contemporary China, ed. by Paul G. Pickowicz & Yingjin Zhang (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).  Journal of Contemporary China 67-4 (November 2008): 1430-1432.Review essay on Tani Barlow, ed., Gender Politics in Modern China: Writing and FeminismJournal of Modern Literature in Chinese, 2-1 (July 1998): 143-146.Review essay on Jean Ma, Sounding the Modern Woman: The Songstress in Chinese Cinema Durham: Duke University Press, June 2015Journal: History: Reviews of New Books 44-5 (September 2016): 153.

Review essay on Tani Barlow, ed., Gender Politics in Modern China: Writing and FeminismJournal of Modern Literature in Chinese, 2-1 (July 1998): 143-146.


Academic Spotlight: Bowdoin Professor Seeks Out Experimental Chinese Women Artists

Academic Spotlight: Bringing Underground Chinese Cinema to New Audiences

Academic Spotlight: Professor and Students Alike Changed by Summer Study in China