April Graduate Student Spotlight: Shaohua Guo, Ph.D. student
Posted: April 1, 2008
JT: How did you become interested in Chinese literature and film? How did you decide to get a Ph.D. in Asian Cultures and Languages?
SG: There are two teachers who have influenced me a lot: my grandmother and my high school teacher. My grandmother was a Chinese instructor in an elementary school, and she taught me to read Chinese characters and recite classical Chinese poems when I was little. My high school teacher was also a Chinese instructor, and he encouraged me and several other students in my class to organize a literature association. We published our own journals for a year. Both of them triggered my interest in Chinese literature at an early age, and I didn't hesitate to choose Chinese literature as my major when I entered college. After finishing my master's degree in China, I felt the need to learn more about different perspectives in studying Chinese film and literature. That is why I decided to come to the States and pursue a Ph.D. in Asian Cultures and Languages.
JT: What is the topic of your dissertation?
SG: My dissertation is tentatively entitled "Woman, Self-reflective Writing, and Middlebrow Culture in China." I want to first build a genealogy of middlebrow culture by positioning contemporary middlebrow culture in a larger historical context, specifically China's Republican period (1912-1949) and Mao's period (1949-1977). I am interested in analyzing how the old ideas about the middle class are consistently shaping new thoughts in the present. Then, by examining middle-class women's self-reflective writing in print media, in film, and on the Internet, I will further explore the dynamic relationships among feminism, commercialism, and patriarchy in contemporary China.
JT: Once you begin teaching culture courses, what would you like to teach?
SG: I would like to teach on stardom in China. I learned a lot about Hollywood stardom during my time at UT, but few studies have been done with regard to stardom in China. I want to study Chinese stars from a comparative perspective, and focus on the construction of star images and the reception of stars in society.
JT: What is your favorite place in China and why?
SG: Beijing. It has a long history and is recognized as the cultural center of China, and it has the largest number of renowned universities of any city in China. Many famous directors and actors live there, which is a big plus for me. It is easy to get the most up-to-date news there. I often had the feeling that the stories I read in the newspapers were happening around me. Having spent seven years there as an undergraduate and graduate student, I enjoyed being a part of this city.
JT: If you could have dinner with any person living or dead who would it be and why?
SG: If possible, I would like to have dinner with Earnest Hemingway in his house in Key West. I have been to that house, now a museum. It is a beautiful house surrounded by trees and flowers. As a writer, he experienced both World War I and World War II and lived in many countries. His life was full of stories. It would certainly be fun to have a conversation with him in such a nice place.
JT: If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
SG: A Sheep. That is my Chinese zodiac sign. Sheep look elegant, they always keep themselves neat. Sheep are social animals, yet they are quiet and shy. You seldom see sheep engaged in a fight.
JT: What is your favorite place in Austin and why?
SG: Mount Bonnell. It's a short drive from the campus and my apartment. You get a great view of the Austin skyline and Lake Austin and it is a great place to take pictures. Plus, you get quite a little workout climbing up those stairs.