Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Area and Cultural Studies, University of Chicago
On the Face of Things: Commercial Inscriptions and the Art of Advertising in Early Modern China

This dissertation will be the first major study of the rise of advertising as an art form in early modern China. My research focuses specifically on the commercial branding of ink stones (yan) and ink cakes (mo) from the Huizhou region (present-day Anhui) in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Commercial inscriptions on these objects offered a framework around which cultural producers experimented with visual design, forms of craft, and new modes of literary production. Advertising in turn opened up a unique space in which writers were able to imagine different possibilities for the construction of textual authority and channels of communication. Integrating perspectives from art history, material culture, and literary studies, I approach these inscriptional artifacts as vehicles for envisaging new categories of value at a time of great uncertainty about the effects and possibilities of a trans-regional consumer society.