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  • MEAL 1

Photo Poetics: Chinese Lyricism and Modern Media Culture

Spring Semester 2022

Modern East Asian Literature Research Cluster presents Emerging Research on Modern East Asian Literature

Photo Poetics: Chinese Lyricism and Modern Media Culture

Speaker: Shengqing WU

Professor of Chinese Literature | Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Moderator: Vivien Yan WEI

Assistant Professor | Chinese Language and Literature, School of Chinese | University of Hong Kong

2 March 2022 (Wed), 5:00–6:30 pm (ZOOM ONLY, HKT)

What happened when Chinese poetic traditions encountered photography in the modern era? In this new book Photo Poetics, Shengqing Wu explores the complex negotiations between poetry and photography in the late Qing and Republican eras, examining the ways traditional textual forms collaborated with the new visual culture. Drawing on extensive archival research into illustrated magazines, poetry collections, and vintage photographs, Photo Poeticsanalyzes a range of practices and genres, including self-representation in portrait photography; gifts of inscribed photographs; and photography of beautiful women, ghosts, immortals, and imagined landscapes. Wu argues that the lyrical tradition provided rich resources for artistic creativity, self-expression, and embodied experience in the face of an increasingly technological and image-oriented society. In this book talk, she will offer succinct summaries of main arguments, showcasing visual examples of manipulated portrait and landscape photographs with inscriptions, as well as providing reflections on methodologies for engaging in image-text and archival research.

Shengqing Wu is professor of Chinese literature at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She is the author of Modern Archaics: Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900–1937 (Harvard University Asia Center, 2013) and Photo Poetics: Chinese Lyricism and Modern Media Culture (Columbia University Press, 2020).

The series is coordinated by Dr. Su Yun Kim (, Dr Pei-yin Lin (, and Dr. Alvin Wong ( For the seminar series, check our website

For registration of the seminar, go to



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