Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Dr Xiaoning Lu

Key information

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures Reader in Modern Chinese Culture and Language China and Inner Asia Section Reader in Modern Chinese Culture and Language China Institute Academic Staff, SOAS China Institute Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies Member
BA (Nanjing), MA (Fudan), PhD (Stony Brook)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Telephone number
+44(0) 20 7898 4670
Support hours
By appointment (xl1)


Xiaoning Lu received her BA and MA in Chinese Literature and Language from Nanjing University and Fudan University respectively. She then earned her PhD in Comparative Literature from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Prior to joining SOAS in 2010, she had taught cinema and cultural studies, modern Chinese literature and popular culture at Stony Brook University and Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich.

Xiaoning’s research focuses on the complex relationship between cultural production and state governance in modern China. She is the author of Moulding the Socialist Subject: Cinema and Chinese Modernity 1949-1966 (Brill, 2020) and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Communist Visual Cultures (OUP, 2020). Her writings on various aspects of Chinese socialist cinema and culture have appeared in journals and edited collections, including Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Journal of Contemporary China, Chinese Film Stars, Maoist Laughter, Surveillance in Asian Cinema: Under Eastern Eyes and Words and Their Stories: Essays on the Language of the Chinese Revolution. She was recently a recipient of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship through which she researched transnational film practices in the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1989.

In addition to her scholarly work, Xiaoning is passionate at introducing contemporary Chinese films to UK audiences. With colleagues at Shanghai Art Film Federation, she co-curated Chinese Art Film Festival London Showcase from 2016 to 2018 exploring social and cultural issues in contemporary Chinese society, including the persistence of traditional values in China’s modernization and Chinese women’s filmmaking. Recognized for her regional expertise, she was invited to provide advice on China-related cultural production for the National Theatre, RDF television, and other media companies in the UK.

Xiaoning welcomes enquiries for doctoral projects in these (and related) areas: Chinese film history and aesthetics, and various forms of popular culture in contemporary China.

Research interests

My research on modern Chinese cinema and culture focuses on the relationship among the aesthetic, the affective, and the political in the making of modern identities. In my first monograph Moulding the Socialist Subject: Cinema and Chinese Modernity 1949-1966 (Brill, 2020), I deploy case studies from popular film genres, movie star culture and rural film exhibition practices to argue that Chinese cinema in 1949–1966, at once an important political instrument, an enjoyable yet instructive form of entertainment, and a specific manifestation of the socialist society of the spectacle, was an everyday site where the moulding of the new socialist person unfolded. While painting a broad picture of Chinese socialist cinema, I credit the human agency of film professionals, whose self-reflexivity and individual adaptability played an intrinsic role in the Party’s political project. Together with Aga Skrodzka and Katarzyna Marciniak I have co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Communist Visual Cultures (Oxford University Press, 2020), which brings togeher thirty-two international scholars from various disciplines in a single-volume collaboration. Currently, I am researching transnational film practices in the People's Republic of China, with special focus on the Cold War period.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Miss Federica Gamberini [working title] The Idea of Beauty. Subjectivity, writing and aesthetic experience in Contemporary Chinese literature
Yue Han Militarism in Israeli and Palestinian Cinemas
Miss Yunzi Han Representing Sexual Politics in Walled Societies: A Comparative Study of Chinese and Iranian Cinemas since the Late 1990s. (Working title)
Fang Wan The Construction of Feminist Utopia in Chinese Internet Literature
Dr Jessica Siu-yin Yeung Semiotics of Allegory: Queerness in Contemporary Taiwan and Hong Kong Novel and Cinema


Contact Xiaoning