Ying Qian

Ying Qian

Research Interest

Chinese-language cinema and media; documentary, industrial and scientific films; progressive and activist cinema; labor, craft and industry in media production; media ecology.

As a scholar of cinema and media, Ying Qian is interested in the role of media and mediation in shaping politics, forming knowledge, and connecting realms of experience. Her first book, Revolutionary Becomings: Documentary Media in Twentieth-Century China (Columbia University Press, 2024) excavates documentary’s multi-faceted productivities in China’s revolutionary movements, from the toppling of the Qing Empire in 1911 to the political campaigns and mass protests in the Mao and post-Mao eras. It approaches documentary as an “eventful medium,” and as a prism to examine the mutual constitution of media and revolution: how revolutionary movements gave rise to specific media practices, and how these media practices in turn contributed to the specific paths of revolution’s actualization. She’s now working on a new monograph on media and the ecologies of knowledge in China’s reform and opening. Ying Qian’s articles have appeared in Critical Inquiry, New Left Review, China Perspectives, New Literary History of Modern China, Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas, and other journals and websites. At Columbia, she teaches classes on East Asian cinema, Chinese media cultures, documentary media, media of science and technology, and comparative media theory and history. Drawing from her experiences in filmmaking, she has incorporated creative assignments in her classes, guiding students to try their hands on media productions.

Selected Publications

Revolutionary Becomings: Documentary Media in Twentieth-Century China (Columbia University Press, 2024)

“When Taylorism Met Revolutionary Romanticism: Documentary Cinema in China’s Great Leap Forward”, Critical Inquiry (Spring 2020).

“The Spectre of Liu Shaoqi,” in A New Literary History of Modern China (Harvard, 2017)

“Working with Rubble: Montage, Tweets, and the Reconstruction of an Activist Cinema,” in China’s iGeneration: Filmmakers, Films and Audiences in a New Media Age (Continuum, 2014)

“Power in the Frame: Independent Documentary in China,” The New Left Review (2012)