History of Art


Nikos Stangos Memorial Lecture 2023: Professor Anne Anlin Cheng

24 May 2023, 5:30 pm–8:00 pm


This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Queenie Lee


G06 Roberts Building
Sir Ambrose Fleming LT
United Kingdom

'Strange Life: Apparitions of the Yellow Woman'

What is the racial logic behind the history of the ornament? When we braid the aesthetic and philosophic discourse of the ornament to one of the great racial imaginaries of our time, Orientalism, what we find is an archaeology of “Asiatic female thingliness.”  Rather than decrying this history of objectification, the negativity of which we take to be a given, let us take the next step and ask what it means to be a subject who survive as or through crushing objecthood.  How does the posthuman speak to feminist, critical race theory and practice?

This talks takes a series of inanimate objects that both hark to and refuse traces of the human and the racialized – cyborgs, monsters, and vases – as fulcrums through which to explore how racialized gender, specifically the specter of the yellow woman, animates the romance of pastness and fuels the designs of futurity, how this spectral figure enables the slippage between the human and the inhuman so foundational to the dream of modernity. 

Followed by a reception in: IAS Forum

About the Speaker

Professor Anne Anlin Cheng

Professor of English at Princeton University

Anne Anlin Cheng is Professor of English, and affiliated faculty in the Program in American Studies, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Committee on Film Studies. She is an interdisciplinary and comparative race scholar who focuses on the uneasy intersection between politics and aesthetics, drawing from literary theory, race and gender studies, film and architectural theory, legal studies, psychoanalysis, and critical food studies. She works primarily with twentieth-century American literature and visual culture with special focus on Asian American and African American literatures. She is the author of The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden GriefSecond Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface; and, most recently, Ornamentalism. Her work has appeared in journals such as Critical InquiryRepresentationsPMLACamera ObscuraDifferences, among others. She is also a contributor to New York TimesThe AtlanticLos Angeles Review of Books, and Huffington Post.

More about Professor Anne Anlin Cheng