Nadine Chan

Collegiate Assistant Professor, Humanities
Core: Reading Cultures
Co-Chair, Society of Fellows

Gates-Blake 308
773-702-8564

Nadine Chan received her PhD in Cinema and Media studies with a certificate in Visual Studies from the University of Southern California. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, she conducted research in Southeast Asia as a Global Asia Postdoctoral Fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her research and teaching interests include

Her monograph-in-progress, Cinema Under the Palms: Colonial Education in an Unruly Medium is a cultural history and theoretical study of nontheatrical educational films in colonial British Malaya and Singapore from the 1920s to the present. Her research bridges interdisciplinary thought and research methodologies that include media theory and historiography, media anthropology, empire studies, and theoretical approaches to materiality. By tracing how these films both enforced and escaped imperial regimes in their journey from the reel to the byte, this study conceptualizes film’s quintessential unruliness and offers a theoretical framework for colonial cinema.

Her second major research project, Folds of Media Literacy: Colonial Legacy, Civil Liberties and the Sacred Depths of Cyberspace, studies transnational theaters of media literacy that emerged from large-scale episodes of global violence, revolution, and militarization from the 1920s to the present. In particular, it investigates how the historical development of global media literacy programs in Asia intersects with the practice of post-national religion through participatory digital spaces. Theorizing media literacy through the lens of the sacred reconceptualizes the architecture of the web as Deleuzian “folds” that entwine the spatialization of cyberspace with spiritual transcendence.

Chan has articles published in Cinema Journal, Studies in Documentary Film, and Spectator. Her dissertation, “A Cinema Under the Palms: The Unruly Lives of Colonial Educational Film in British Malaya” received an Award of Distinction for the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Dissertation Prize and was on the final shortlist for the 2017 International Convention for Asian Scholars (ICAS) Dissertation Prize. Research for this dissertation, was supported by a Social Science Research Council Andrew W. Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship, among other grants. She co-organized the “Global Asia: Critical Aesthetics, Alternative Globalities” symposium at NTU that brought scholars from around the world to Singapore in June 2016 to interrogate the “global turn” in Asian Studies.

Her areas of research and teaching include: global media historiography, media archaeology, visual studies, media anthropology, nontheatrical film, materiality of media, postcolonial theory and new empire studies, studies in Global Asia, Asian/Southeast Asian film and media, religion and new media, and cultural studies.

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