Sheldon Lu

image of sheldon lu

Position Title
Professor of Comparative Literature

808 Sproul Hall


  • M.A. and Ph.D. (1990) in Comparative Literature, Indiana University, Bloomington.
  • B.A. (1984) in Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Sheldon Lu taught at the University of Pittsburgh for ten years (1992-2002) before joining the University of California at Davis in 2002 as Professor of Comparative Literature.  His research, scholarship, and teaching lie at the intersection of literary studies, visual studies, film studies, China studies, and cultural theory.  He has served as the Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, Director of the Graduate Program in Comparative Literature, and Founding Co-Director of the Film Studies Program at UC Davis.  He is the author and editor of some 15 books in English and Chinese.  His writings have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, such as New Literary HistoryModern Language QuarterlyTelosboundary 2SemioticaComparative Literature Studies, Comparative LiteratureEuropean Review (Academia Europaea)Cinema JournalJump Cutpositions, Post Script, Asian CinemaJournal of Chinese Cinemas, Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese現代中文文學學報, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), China InformationHarvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Arts Criticism艺术评论,Literature & Art Studies文艺研究, Theoretical Studies in Literature and Art文艺理论研究, Contemporary Film当代电影, New Film电影新作, Film Appreciation電影欣賞, and Avant-Garde Today今日先锋.

Selected Service, Fellowships, ad Professional Experiences

  • Davis Humanities Institute Fellow, spring 2020
  • Department Chair of Comparative Literature at UC Davis, 2016-19
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Chinese, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, late summer/early fall 2017
  • Member of Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), University Grants Council, Hong Kong, 2014
  • Director of Graduate Program in Comparative Literature at UC Davis, 2010-2014
  • Coordinator and instructor, UC Davis summer-study-abroad program in Shanghai and Hong Kong, 2008.
  • Fulbright Fellow in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine, 2004-2005
  • Principal Investigator, grant from Pacific Rim Research Program of University of California for organizing the international conference "Literary Studies in the Age of Globalization," Beijing, China, summer 2004.
  • Founding Co-Director of Film Studies Program at UC Davis, 2002-2004
  • Research Fellow, Center for Literary Theory (wenyixue yanjiu zhongxin文艺学研究中心) at Beijing Normal University, China, 2000-2001
  • Assistant and Associate Professor of Chinese, University of Pittsburgh.  Affiliated with Film Studies and Cultural Studies.  1992-2002.
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1991-92.
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Program in Comparative Literature, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 1990-91.

Founding General Editor (2009-2019) of the book series "Critical Interventions" at the University of Hawaii Press.  Websites:;  Ten books were published.

Selected advisory/editorial board member of international journals:



Monographs in English

  • Contemporary Chinese Cinema and Visual Culture: Envisioning the Nation.  London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.
  • Chinese Modernity and Global Biopolitics: Studies in Literature and Visual Culture.  University of Hawaii Press, 2007. 
  • China, Transnational Visuality, Global Postmodernity.  Stanford University Press, 2001.
  • From Historicity to Fictionality: The Chinese Poetics of Narrative. Stanford University Press, 1994.  Translated into Korean and Chinese, published in Seoul, South Korea (Ghil, 2001) and Beijing, China (Beijing University Press, 2012).

Edited Anthologies in English

  • Co-editor with Haomin Gong.  Ecology and Chinese-Language Cinema: Reimagining a Field.  London and New York: Routledge, 2020.
  • Co-editor with Jiayan Mi.  Chinese Ecocinema in the Age of Environmental Challenge. Hong Kong University Press, 2009; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010. 
  • Co-editor with Emilie Y. Y. Yeh.  Chinese-Language Film: Historiography, Poetics, Politics. University of Hawaii Press, 2005. Choice's Award of "Outstanding Academic Title of 2005." 
  • Editor.  Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender.  University of Hawaii Press, 1997.  A University of Hawaii Press best-selling text.

Books in Chinese

  • Lyric Poetry and Solidarity Society in Hong Kong in the 1950s 一九五〇年代香港詞壇與堅社. Hong Kong: Chung Hwa Book Co. 中華書局, 2022.
  • Editor.  Collected Works of Lingnan Scholar Lin Manhua 嶺南學人林縵華文集.  Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Co.三聯書店, forthcoming 2022.
  • Co-editor with Haomin Gong 龚浩敏.  Essays on Chinese Ecocinema 中国生态电影文集.  Wuhan: Wuhan University Press 武汉大学出版社, 2017.  
  • Image, Literature, Theory: Re-visioning Chinese Modernity 影像、文学、理论:重新审视中国现代性. Beijing: The Publishing House of the China Literary Federation 中国文联出版社, 2016. 
  • Love Trilogy (novel)--The Sentimental AgeReturning to BeijingA Journey to the West (aka From Ukraine, with Love) . Beijing: Overseas Chinese Press, 2015.  小说:《爱情三部曲》--《感伤的岁月》、《回北京》、《西域行》(又名:《乌克兰之恋》)。北京:中国华侨出版社,2015. 313 pages, Preface, 20 photos.
  • Chinese edition of From Historicity to Fictionality: The Chinese Poetics of Narrative--从史实性到虚构性:中国叙事诗学.  Beijing University Press 北京大学出版社, 2012. 
  • Editor.  The Lyric Poetry of Lin Bicheng 碧城樂府:林碧城詞集, by Lin Ruheng 林汝珩,with introduction, annotations and supplemental materials.  Hong Kong University Press 香港大学出版社, 2011.
  • Culture, Mirror-Image, Poetics 文化,镜像,诗学.  Tianjin People's Press 天津人民出版社, 2002.


  • Co-editor with Jaimey Fisher.  The Modern City in World Cinema.  A special issue,Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary  no. 197 (Winter 2021).
  • Guest editor.  Chinese-language Ecocinema, a special issue of Journal of Chinese Cinemas vol. 11, no. 1 (March 2017).
  • Editor.  “Chinese Film Studies” (华语电影研究), a special section of 《文化研究》(Cultural Studies) (Beijing) vol. 11 (2011): 245-308.
  • Co-editor with Emilie Yueh-yu Yeh.  Chinese Cinema, a special double issue of Post Script: Essays in Film and the Humanities 20.2 & 3 (Winter/Spring & Summer 2001). 
  • Editor.  “Problems and Prospects of Teaching Asian Cinema in America: A Symposium,” a special section of Asian Cinema 11.1 (Spring/Summer 2000).


  • Co-author with Jaimey Fisher.  "Introduction."  The Modern City in World Cinema.  A special issue of Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary no. 197 (Winter 2021).
  • Co-author with Zhen Zhang.  "Mediated Environment across Oceans and Countries."  Media + Environment 1 (1), November 22, 2019.
  • “The First Screenings of Lumière Films in China: Conjectures and New Findings.” Asia Cinema 30.1 (2019): 129-135.
  • Co-author with Karen Thornber.  “Commentary.” A special issue of Comparative Literature Studies on “Ecocriticism in East Asia.”  Vol. 55, no. 4 (2018): 741-748.
  • “Introduction: Chinese-language Ecocinema.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 11.1 (March 2017): 1-12.
  • “Cosmopolitanism and Alternative Modernity in Twentieth-Century China.” Telos 180 (Fall 2017): 105-120.
  • "Space, Mobility, Modernity: The Figure of the Prostitute in Chinese-language Cinema." Asian Cinema 27.1 (2016): 85-99. 
  • "Foreword," a special issue on Chinese-language cinema, Asian Cinema 27.1 (2016): 3-5. 
  • “Agitation or Deep Focus? Early Chinese Film History and Theory.” A review essay. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, vol. 76, no. 1 (June 2016): 197-207. 
  • “Classical Poetry in Hong Kong in the 1950s: Solidarity Club and Lin Bicheng” 一九五〇年代香港詞壇:堅社與林碧城.  Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese《現代中文文學學報》12. 2 (summer 2015): 138-209.
  • “Re-visioning Global Modernity through the Prism of China.” European Review (Academia Europaea) vol. 23, no. 2 (May 2015): 210-226.
  • “Artistic Interventions in Contemporary China,” a special issue on urbanization and art, China Information: A Journal on Contemporary China Studies 29 (2) (July 2015): 282-297.
  • “Notes on Four Major Paradigms in Chinese-Language Film Studies.”  Journal of Chinese Cinemas 6.1 (2012): 15-25.
  • “Spatial Reconfigurations of Beijing: Transnational Architecture, Avant-Garde Art, and Local Documentary Practice.” Asian Cinema 22.2 (Fall/Winter 2011): 352-363.
  • “I Ching and the Origin of the Chinese Semiotic Tradition,” Semiotica 170—1/4 (2008): 169-185.
  • “Popular Culture and Body Politics: Beauty Writers in Contemporary China,” Modern Language Quarterly 69.1 (March 2008): 167-185.
  •  “Dialect and Modernity in 21st Century Sinophone Cinema.”  Jump Cut: A Journal of Contemporary Film and Media (online journal) 49 (Spring 2007).
  • “History, Memory, Nostalgia: Rewriting Socialism in Chinese Film and TV Drama,” Asian Cinema (fall 2005): 2-24.
  • ‘“Beautiful Violence’: War, Peace, Globalization,” a special issue on Asian visual culture, positions: east asia cultures critique 12.3 (winter 2004): 759-711.
  • “Waking to Modernity: The Classical Tale in Late Qing China,” New Literary History 34.4 (Autumn 2003): 745-760.
  • “Soap Opera in China: The Transnational Politics of Visuality, Sexuality, Masculinity,” Cinema Journal vol. 40, no. 1 (Fall 2000): 25-47.
  • “Global POSTmodernIZATION: The Intellectual, the Artist, and China’s Condition.”  Special issue Postmodernism and China boundary 2: an international journal of literature and culture 24.3 (fall 1997): 65-97.
  • “Art, Culture, and Cultural Criticism in Post‑New China.” Special issue Cultural Studies: China and the West.  New Literary History 28.1 (Winter 1997): 111-133.
  • “Postmodernity, Popular Culture, and the Intellectual: A Report on Post‑Tiananmen China.”  boundary 2 23.2 (summer 1996): 139‑69.
  • “The Fictional Discourse of Pien‑wen: The Relation of Chinese Fiction to Historiography.”  Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 9 (1987): 49‑70.

Courses taught at UC Davis

  • Forms of Asian Literature
  • Chinese Cinema
  • Hong Kong Cinema
  • Introduction to Film
  • World Cinema
  • Globalization and National Culture
  • Transnationalism
  • Introduction to Critical Theory
  • Colloquium: Introduction to Comparative Literature
  • Introduction to Graduate Studies in Chinese Literature
  • Shanghai and Hong Kong: Cinema, Culture, Society (UC Davis Summer Study Abroad Program, 2008)
  • Freshman Seminar: Modern Chinese Literature

Recent Lectures and Presentations (2017-2019)

  • "China in the World: Theories of Modernity."  Faculty lecture series, East Asian Studies Program, UC Davis, October 24, 2019.
  • "Re-descriptions of Chinese Modernity and Global Modernity."  School of Humanities, Tsinghua University, Beijing, September 20, 2019.
  • "Environment, Class, and Labor in Chinese Ecological Thought."  Wuhan Polytechnic University and Hubei University, Wuhan, China, September, 2019.
  • Multiple lectures and presentations on Dunhuang popular narratives (bianwen) 敦煌变文, strategies in global Chinese literary and cultural studies, Chinese and global modernity, college education, at Lanzhou University, China, July, 2019.
  • Keynote address.  “Media, Environment, and Class under Transnational Capitalism.”  Biannual conference of the Asian Cinema Studies Society, Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore, June 24-26, 2019.  
  • Keynote address.  “Environment, Class, and Labor in Chinese Ecological Thought: Toward a Historicization.”  International conference "Ecowriting: Tradition and Modernity," Lingnan University, Hong Kong, March 16-17, 2019.
  • Distinguished Speaker in Film and Visual Studies 影视名家讲座 , "Reflections on Chinese Film Theory in the World" 海外学界的中国电影理论:回顾与展望.  Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau, March 14, 2019.
  • "The Origins, Development, and Current Status of Chinese Ecocinema Studies."  Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, March 18, 2019.
  • “Waking to a Global Landscape: The Thought, Activities, and Stories of Wang Tao (1828-1896),” annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, Los Angeles, March 31, 2018.
  • Distinguished Visiting Speaker, panel discussion on the award-winning documentary Plastic China, China Institute and the Institute for Sustainability, California State University at Northridge, April 2, 2018.
  • Distinguished Chinese Lecture: “Lin Yutang versus Hu Feng: Liberal Cosmopolitanism and Radicalism in 20th Century Intellectual History,” School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University upon Tyne, Great Britain, April 24, 2018.
  • Distinguished Lecture: "Deterritorialization or Re-territorialization? Strategies in Global Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies,” The Confucius Institute for Scotland, Asian Studies Program, University of Edinburgh, Great Britain, April 25, 2018.
  • “Deterritorialization and Re-territorialization: Strategies in Global Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies,” School of Film, Shanghai University, China, June 26, 2018.
  • Keynote speaker: “Several Questions in Regard to the Notion of a ‘Chinese Film School’,” conference “Chinese-language Cinema: Historical Dimension and Aesthetic Interpretation,” School of Film, Shanghai University, China, June 28, 2018.
  • “Local Pastime (Past-Time) of Beijing in the Film Mr. Six,” Conference “Chronotopia: Urban Space and Time in Post-2000 Sinophone Fiction and Film,” Center for Languages and Literature, Lund University, Sweden, August 29-30, 2018.
  • "Chinese Film School 中國電影學派: Prospect, Methodology, and Problems."  Center for Cinema Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, September 2018.
  • “Hong Kong Ci Poetry Club ‘Solidarity Club’ (jianshe) in Hong Kong in the 1950s: Origins, Development, and Major Figures” (1950年代香港詞社“堅社”:起源,歷史,及其主要人物), Department of Chinese, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, September 2018.
  •   “Mapping and Contesting the Notion of Sinophone: The Coming-of-Age of Chinese-language World Literature,” International Workshop “Coming of Age in Sinophone Studies,” Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, University of Zurich, March 23-26, 2017.
  •  “Deterritorialization or Re-territorialization: Strategies in Global Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies,” Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Rutgers University, March 28, 2017.
  •  Keynote Speech: “Words and Images Across Borders: Reflections on World Literature and World Cinema,” Conference “Migrations of Cultures,” an Undergraduate Conference in Modern Languages, The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, March 30, 2017.
  • “The Idea of World Chinese-language Literature: Toward a Critical Genealogy,” annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, Utrecht, Holland, July 7, 2017.
  • Discussant, international conference “Chinese Film Market and Asian Cinema,” Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, August 25-27, 2017.
  • “The Origins, Development, and Current State of Chinese Ecocinema Studies,” Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, August 29, 2017.
  • “Rethinking Global Chinese-Language Literature and the Notion of Sinophone,” Department of Chinese, Nanyang Technological University, August 31, 2017.
  • “The First Screenings of Lumière Brothers Films in China: Conjectures and New Findings,” International Conference in Honor of the Paul Fonoroff Collection, “Shadow History: Archive and Intermediality in Chinese Cinema,” Center for Chinese Studies, University of California at Berkeley, October, 12-14, 2017.