Wendy Gan is an associate professor in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong. Her research has in the past concentrated on questions of gender and modernity in early-20th-century British writing and on Hong Kong film. More recently, however, her focus has turned to the different imaginings of China in British and American middlebrow texts from the interwar period.
At Radcliffe, Gan is working on a new book examining comic representations of China and the Chinese in British and American writing between 1880 and 1945. The recourse to “funniness” in the face of alien difference is the starting point of this project. Why do we smile, laugh, or make a joke when confronted with a world that operates differently from what we know and expect? What happens when our idea of the alien other is inflected with laughter? This project is interested in placing under closer scrutiny the uses of humor and its cognates—comedy, jokes, the comic anecdote—in literary texts concerned with constructing the Chinese other. It aims to recover the fraught complexities of comic representations in a cross-cultural context, highlighting the displaced anxieties and hopes that an exotic Oriental other evokes.
Gan completed her PhD at King’s College London. She is the author of Fruit Chan's Durian Durian (Hong Kong Univresity Press, 2005) and Women, Privacy, and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century British Writing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). She was also a recipient of a 2015–2016 short-term fellowship from the Huntington Library.