My research focuses primarily on contemporary Malaysian Chinese literature and its representation of cultural identity; I see this literature as taking shape within its local social and political context as well as in relation to Chinese literatures produced in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. More broadly, I am interested in postcolonial and diaspora theory, conceptualizations of the Sinophone, and the formation and representation of local and regional Chinese identities. My current book project brings together these textual and theoretical interests.
More recently, I have been concentrating on the circulation of popular culture between the cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and the ways in which this circulation has allowed the ethnic Chinese populations in cities across the globe to connect and interact with each other in the 20th century. More specifically, I am intrigued by the expressions of nostalgia for the Chinese popular music, film and literature of the 1930s through the 1970s in contemporary Malaysian and Taiwan Sinophone stories and films; I am currently exploring what this nostalgia means for the construction and representation of contemporary Chinese identities.
I teach a range of courses in modern Chinese literature and film. Many of my courses contain a transnational dimension; for example, my courses on Chinese film include the cinemas of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In general, my approach to these subjects focuses on both textual and contextual analysis. In other words, we divide our time between scrutinizing the texts themselves and considering the social factors of their production. Themes and issues that frequently arise in class lectures and discussions include nationalism/ transnationalism, identity formation and representation, and gender.