As a scholar of literary, film, and cultural studies, Jie Li’s 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 second monograph, Utopian Ruins: A Memorial Museum of the Mao Era (Duke University Press, 2020), 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 in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution (Harvard Asia Center, 2016). Her current book manuscript, Cinematic Guerrillas: Maoist Propaganda as Spirit Mediumship (Columbia University Press, forthcoming), is a cultural history of Chinese socialist film exhibition, reception, and audiences, including the media networks and environments, discourses and practices, experiences and memories of film projectionists and their grassroots audiences from the 1940s to the 1980s (see a video presentation here). Her next book projects include a transnational film history of Manchuria and a media history of radio, loudspeakers, and noise in modern China.
Li’s recent publications in journals and edited volumes include: “Cinematic Guerrillas in Mao’s China” (Screen, 2020); “The Hot Noise of Open-Air Cinema” (Grey Room, 2020); “Revolutionary Echoes: Radios and Loudspeakers in the Mao Era” (Twentieth-Century China, 2020); “Gained in Translation: The Reception of Foreign Films in Cold War China (The Cold War and Asian Cinemas, 2020); “1965 Red Prison Files” (A New Literary History of Modern China, 2017); “Are Our Drawers Empty? Nie Gannu’s Dossier Literature” (Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures, 2016);“From Landlord Manor to Red Memorabilia: Reincarnations of a Chinese Museum Town” (co-authored with Denise Y. Ho, Modern China, 2015); “Filming Power and the Powerless” (DV-Made China, 2015); "Phantasmagoric Manchukuo: Documentaries Produced by the South Manchurian Railway Company, 1932-1940” (positions: east asia cultures critique, 2014).
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. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roslyn Abramson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Harvard, which recognizes teachers for “excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates.”