Paola Iovene

Paola Iovene, Ph.D.

Associate Professor in Chinese Literature, East Asian Languages and Civilizations. On Leave Autumn 2016 and Winter 2017
Wieboldt 301K
Teaching and Research Interests: 

My work focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century Chinese literature and film. Areas of research include contemporary Chinese fiction and criticism; popular science; conceptions of Chinese realism, modernism, and avant-garde; the translation of foreign literature in socialist China; narrative temporality in fiction and film; late 1940s cinema; opera film; and post-1989 Chinese independent documentary film. I am drawn to the moments in which literature and cinema engage with the tension between truth and fiction. I am especially interested in how specific conceptions of historical time are tied to structures of power, and in the ways in which such conceptions have been both contested and supported by literary and artistic practices.

My first book, Tales of Futures Past: Literature and Anticipation in Contemporary China (Stanford University Press, 2014), explores the ways in which normative visions and intimate feelings about the future have shaped literary institutions, editorial practices, and diverse genres and texts (science fiction, children’s literature, experimental fiction; environmental literature) in socialist and postsocialist China. I am currently working on several projects, including a book tentatively titled Precarious Testimony: The Poetics of Presence in Chinese Independent Documentary Film, which examines the tension between claims to immediacy and documentary film practices that rely on other media such as photography, televisual images, and painting. In a new project on The Politics and Poetics of Air I am trying to combine a cultural history of climate modification in China since the late 1950s with a conceptualization of weather as a lens through which to read literature.

I enjoy translating fiction and am experimenting with different ways to integrate translation in my research and teaching.

Selected Publications: 

Translations (from Chinese into Italian):

  • Fan Xiaoqing, “Breve storia della città e della campagna,” [Chengxiang jianshi/Brief History of Country and City] in Caratteri (2014): 22-35.
  • (with Silvia Pozzi) Cui Zi’en, “Il cinema digitale: le prime immagini libere” [Digital Film: The First Free Images], in Ombre Elettriche: Cento Anni di Cinema Cinese 1905-2005, edited by Marco Müller and Elena Pollacchi, 168–175. Milano: Mondadori Electa, 2005.
  • Han Shaogong, “Seduzione” [Youhuo/Seduction], A Oriente! (Spring 2003): 66–77.
  • Ge Fei, La Cetra Intarsiata [Jinse/The Patterned Lute]. Rome: Fahrenheit 451, 2000.
  • Ge Fei, “Primo Amore” [Chulian/First Love], in Un’Altra Cina. Poeti e Narratori degli Anni Novanta: A Special Issue of In Forma di Parole, no. 1 (1999): 287–292.
  • Han Shaogong, “La Profezia della Porta Nord” [Beimenkou yuyan/The Prophecy of the Northern Gate], in Un’Altra Cina. Poeti e Narratori degli Anni Novanta: A Special Issue of In Forma di Parole, no.1 (1999): 297–309.
  • Lu Xun, “Ajin” [Ajin], L’immaginazione, no. 134 (1996): 2–4.

2014-2015 Courses:                     

  • Same-Sex Love in Modern Sinophone Cultures
  • Media Aesthetics: Image
  • Voices from the Iron House: Lu Xun’s Works
  • Culture Fever: Chinese Literature in the 1980s

Previously Taught Courses: 

  • Chinese Independent Documentary Film
  • The Writer and the People in Modern Chinese Literature
  • Chinese Avant-Garde Fiction in Context
  • Communities, Media and Selves in Modern Chinese Literature
  • Uprooting and Displacement in Chinese Literature and Film
  • Contemporary Chinese Literature: Writers, Critics, and Institutions
  • Reading Cultures II: Travel
  • Beijing in Literature and Visual Culture (University of Chicago Center in Beijing)
  • Communities, Media and Selves in Modern Chinese Literature
  • Contemporary Chinese Writers and the Literary Field
  • Tales of the Future in China and Elsewhere