The Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago is pleased to announce the recipients of the inaugural Philip A. Kuhn Dissertation Prize in Chinese Studies and Kei-on Chan Dissertation Prize in Modern Chinese Studies.  Both Prizes are made possible by a generous gift from Mr. Kei-on Chan (AM ’67, Ph.D. ’74). 

AY 2018-2019 Awardees

Philip A. Kuhn Dissertation Prize in Chinese Studies
Yuqian YAN, Cinema and Media Studies; East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Dissertation: "Re-enchanting the Past: Ancient Costume Films and Transmedial Practices in China, 1925-1945"

Yuqian's work explores the cinematic representation of China's past dynastic past by examining the material aspect of film production and trans medial interaction across photography, painting, storytelling, and theater. She focuses on two significant waves of ancient costume films (guzhuang pian) taken place in the late 1920s and the late 1930s and her study aims to rethink the relationship between a modern medium and the national past.  The CEAS Faculty Selection Committee commented that her scholarship skillfully integrates the disciplines of Cinema and Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations and that she is "a superb and imaginative historian of Republican era cinema, whose dissertation is based on extensive archival research in original printed, visual, and filmic sources." Costume drama is a surprisingly understudied topic, not only in histories of Chinese cinema, but in histories of other national film traditions. The faculty were impressed at Yuqian's ability to uncover new sources, including films that have only recently come to light or have been overlooked. They were equally impressed with the ways in which she makes the problem of “costume drama” so central to discourses about the nation and modernity in this period. 

The Philip A. Kuhn Dissertation Prize in Chinese Studies is in honor of Dr. Philip A. Kuhn, and in recognition of his dedicated efforts to unearth and share deep histories of modern China as a professor at the University of Chicago from 1963 to 1978, and beyond. As a pioneer of social history in the field of Chinese history, Dr. Kuhn’s many notable achievements were achieved by perilous research and relentless pursuit of inquiry. It is with this spirit and his impact on so many, that the Prize is named in his honor.

Kei-on Chan Dissertation Prize in Modern Chinese Studies
Nicholas Yoke Hin WONG, Comparative Literature
Dissertation: "Minor-Peninsular Genres; or, Genealogies of Cold War Chinese-Malayan Writing"

Nicholas utilizes Chinese-language sources to historicize the emergence of minor forms and genres, such as life-writings, communist reportage, anecdotal histories, and philosophical essays in relation to the conceptual histories of wenhua Zhongguo (cultural China), and Malaiya (Malaya), Nanyang (South Seas), Mahua (Chinese-Malaysia), respectively.  He argues that semi-literary Mahua phenomena are ironically crucial to the writing and rewiting of Mahua literary histories to propose an alternative vision of colonial power and postwar modernity that is critical of national and global institutional histories.  The CEAS Faculty Selection Committee concurred that Nicholas, an energetic, imaginative, engaged academic and poet, is conducting groundbreaking work in the study of "sinophone" literatures that challenges the prevalent interpretations of a tradition, a period, and a number of authors.  They commended Nichola on his abilities and readiness to challenge existing positions at sch an early stage in his career and viewed this as an indicative of his promising career.  They viewed his work as striving to shape a new, less chauvinistic, more cosmopolitan literary sensibility for the Chinese world, that will ultimately benefit Chinese literature as written and read in China.

The Kei-on Chan Dissertation Prize in Modern Chinese Studies is in honor of some of the distinguished historians Mr. Kei-on Chan studied under during his time at the University of Chicago, namely, Professors Ho Ping-ti, William McNeil, Tsou Tang, and Tsien Tsuen-Hsuin. This prize is in recognition of the outstanding achievements of those scholars and their inspiring dedication to education.

For more information on the Philip A. Kuhn Dissertation Prize in Chinese Studies and the

Kei-on Chan Dissertation Prize in Modern Chinese Studies including eligibility, terms, and requirements,

please visit our China Studies Funding page.