People / Faculty

Permanent Faculty

Weihong Bao

Associate Professor of Film & Media and East Asian Languages & Cultures

Joint Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies & East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Chicago

Weihong Bao


6214 Dwinelle Hall

Fridays, 4-6pm



Weihong Bao is Pamela P. Fong and Family Distinguished Chair in China Studies and an Associate Professor of Film and Media & East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley. She has published widely on comparative media history and theory, media and environment, early cinema, war and modernity, affect theory, propaganda theory and practice, and Chinese language cinema of all periods and regions. Her book Fiery Cinema: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915-1945 (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) received an honorable mention for the Modernist Studies Association Best Book Prize in 2016. Her more recent work explores the relationship between medium and environment, by engaging intellectual history, political theory, cultural anthropology, and comparative media theory. On this subject she has co-edited two special issues on “Media/Climates” (Representations) and “Medium/Environment” (Critical Inquiry); she is also completing a new book, “Background Matters: Set Design Thinking and The Art of Environment.”

She has held fellowships from the Getty Research Institute, the Internationale Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM), Germany, the University of Melbourne, Australia, Freie Universität Berlin, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München, the National Humanities Center, the Townsend Center for the Humanities, and the Suzy Newhouse Center for the Humanities. She is the editor-in-chief for The Journal of Chinese Cinemas and co-edits the “film theory in media history” book series published by Amsterdam University Press. She also serves on the editorial board for Representations, Discourse, Journal of Visual Culture and Feminist Media History.


Fiery cinema cover
Cover of Representations 157, February 2022. Orange cover with white and black text.
Cover of Special issue on “Medium/Environment,” Critical Inquiry 49: 3, 2023. Photo of an old TV set on a table next to a stove.

Select publications


Fiery Cinema: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915-1945 (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) Winner, Outstanding Academic Title, 2015, by Choice; Honorable Mention, Best Book Prize, Modernist Studies Association, 2016.

Edited Volumes

Co-editor, Special issue on “Medium/Environment,” Critical Inquiry, 49: 3, 2023

Co-editor, Special issue on “Climate/Media,” Representations 157, February 2022

Peer Reviewed Articles

“Shadow, Picture, Play: Ontology, Archaeology, Ecology.” The Oxford Handbook of Silent Cinema. Ed. Charlie Keil and Rob King. London: Oxford University Press, 2024.

“Set Design Thinking and the Art of the Human,” Critical Inquiry, 49: 3, (2023),

“Hermeneutics of Doubt: Atmospheric Knowing and an Ecology of the Mind,” Representations 157, (2022), 142-192.

“Archaeology of a Medium: The (Agri)Cultural Techniques of Paddy Farm Films.” Boundary 2 (49.1), (2022), 25-70.

“Documentary in the Age of Mass Mobility: Minzu wansui and the Epic Gesture of Ethnographic Propaganda,” A Companion to Documentary Film History. Ed. Joshua Malitsky and Malin Wahlberg. London: Blackwell-Wiley, 2021, 311-336.

“From Duration to Temporalization: Rethinking Time and Space for Durational Art,” Representations, 136, (2016) 132-137; 168-169

“The Art of Control: Hong Shen, Behavioral Psychology, and the Technics of Social Effects.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 27:2 fall (2015), 249-297.

 “The Trouble with Theater: Cinema and the Geopolitics of Medium Specificity” in the Special Issue on “The Geopolitical Contour of Film and Media Theory Today,” Framework 56:2 fall (2015), 350-367.

“Cinema, Propaganda, and Networks of Experience: Exhibiting Chongqing Cinema in New York” in American and Chinese Language Cinemas: Examining Cultural Flows. Routledge, 2014. 119-135  (co-author with Nathanial Brennan).

“Li Lishun’s Medium Ontology.” Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung (Journal of Media and Cultural Studies), 5:1 (2014), 63-71.

“A Vibrating Art in the Air: Cinema, Ether, and Propaganda Film Theory in Wartime Chongqing,” New German Critique 122, spring 2014. 175-192.

Homecoming Diaries: Inhabiting and Dis-inhabiting the Theatrical in Postwar Shanghai Cinema” A Companion to Chinese Cinema. Ed. Zhang Yingjin. London: Blackwell Publishing, 2012. 377-399.

“The Politics of Remediation: Mise-en-scėne and the Subjunctive Body in Chinese Opera Film,” Opera Quarterly 26:2-3 (2010), 256-291.

“In Search of a ‘Cinematic Esperanto’: Exhibiting Wartime Chongqing Cinema in the Global Context,” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 3:2 (2009), 135-147.

“Biomechanics of Love: Reinventing the Avant-Garde in Tsai Ming-liang’s Wayward ‘Pornographic Musical.’” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 1: 2 (2007), 139-160.

“From Pearl White to White Rose Woo: Tracing The Vernacular Body of Nüxia in Chinese Silent Cinema, 1927-1931.” Camera Obscura 60 (2005), 193-231

“A Panoramic Worldview: Probing the Visuality of Dianshizhai huabao.” Journal of Modern Chinese Literature 32 (2005), 405-462