Dylan Suher is a scholar of modern Chinese literature and media. He received his PhD and MA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. His research explores ideologies and definitions of popular culture, the development of media practices within and across national boundaries, and the postsocialist legacies of socialist institutions of cultural production. His current book project, tentatively titled “Getting Electrocuted”: Media and the Author in Postsocialist China,” investigates how writers in the People’s Republic of China during the Late Reform Era (1989–2012) used media to represent the existential challenges facing their profession and the institution of Chinese literature. At a time when their livelihood and cultural status was under siege from the pressures of state divestment, marketization, and global cultural flows, these writers used audiovisual media—both symbolically and literally, through engaging in television and film production—to express their ambivalence toward a new media ecology that simultaneously offered opportunity and precarity. While at the University of Hong Kong, Suher intends to build on this project by examining the early internet circulation of the countercultural writer Wang Xiaobo, and the shared aesthetics of “worker poetry” and independent documentary. He will also pursue new research projects in late 1980s Chinese television theory and production, and the problem of length in contemporary Chinese literature and media.
Apart from his scholarship, Suher writes essays and reviews on Chinese literature. His work has been published by The White Review, Popula, and most frequently in the journal Asymptote, for which he serves as a contributing editor. He was an assistant editor of (and contributor to) A New Literary History of Modern China (Harvard University Press, 2017). He sees translation and essays introducing Chinese literature to a popular audience as an important extension of his more formal academic work.