Xiangjun “Sean” Feng 馮相郡 received his Ph.D. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley, in 2021. His dissertation, Secret Scroll: The Production of Occult Knowledge in China’s Age of Print, untangles what he calls “the paradox of secrecy in the age of print” by studying a wide range of “secret scrolls” — books claiming the revelation of occult knowledge — that were produced in China’s early modern and modern periods, such as books of prophecy, sectarian scriptures, secret society pamphlets, mesmerism how-to books, kung fu manuals, as well as a rich body of literary works that engaged with the “secret scroll” as a cultural trope. A chapter of the dissertation, which reads the famous late-Qing Chinese novel The Travels of Lao Can as a book of prophecy, has appeared in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. He is also interested in sound studies and has published articles on such topics as rhythm, radio, and Chinese sounds in Southeast Asia.
At UBC, he works on three things. First, to transform the dissertation into a monograph. Second, to do research for his SSHRC-funded project “Written to be Burned: An Alternative History of Book Burning in China’s Age of Print,” which shifts his dissertation’s focus on “knowledge production” to “knowledge destruction.” Third, to start conceiving a more synthesized way of exploring the relationship between media infrastructures, literary culture, and epistemic changes in China’s early modern and modern periods. He does not yet know what this “way” is like, but he is sure it will grow out of the primary sources he works with.
Peer-reviewed Journal Articles
“Rhythm Revolution: How Music ‘Modernized’ China (1903–1937).” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 32.2 (Fall 2020): 1–42. (Abstract; full article available upon request.)
“The Travels of Lao Can as a Book of Prophecy.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (2022): 1–26. doi:10.1017/S1356186322000013. (Open Access)
“The Birth of Noise in Modern China: Radio, Acoustic Engineering, and the Sonic Network.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas. Accepted.
Chapter in Edited Volume
“The Father and the Daughter: Li Jinhui and Li Minghui’s Musical Tour to Southeast Asia, 1928–1929.” In China Sounds Abroad: Migration, Mobility and Modernity, edited by Andreas Steen, Andrew F. Jones, and Frederick Lau, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press. Accepted. (Abstract)
SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship
Duke-DKU Global Fellowship
The Buwei Yang and Yuen Ren Chao Prize
The Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
Weiming Poetry Award