Jiarui Sun

Cohort Year: 2019
Research Interests: Contemporary China
Education: BA: Zhejiang University (Chinese Language and Literature) 2016 MA: Dartmouth College (General Liberal Studies) 2019


I study how language and other semiotic systems constitute personal and collective feelings in modern and contemporary China. How do ordinary people get in touch with “grand” issues such as revolution or nationalism in their daily life? How are feelings like feminist passion or patriotic enthusiasm shared and reproduced? What aspects of seemingly mundane activities such as writing, reading, and typing meaningfully impact our relationship with the society in which we live? Working at the intersection of linguistic anthropology, cultural studies, and sociology of everyday life, I pay special attention to the ways in which seemingly “trivial” signs shape and organize modern Chinese culture. In my first project, I study how certain routinized use of flying comments (danmu) semiotically achieve a shared nationalistic feeling for viewers of animation Year, Hare, Affair. My second project looks into on how readers and writers in 1920s and 30s make sense of the exclamation point after it was introduced into the Chinese writing system.

In my own mundane life, I enjoy jogging, cooking, and observing my cat Miyu’s (ethno-)method of doing cat.