Dr. Emily Wilcox is tenured Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at William & Mary. In Fall 2023, Wilcox is on research leave as a Member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Wilcox previously taught at the University of Michigan from 2013-2020, where she was most recently tenured Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Studies, Associate Chair, and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and Affiliate Faculty in the School of Music, Theater, and Dance. Wilcox remains involved in research and mentoring at U-M through her ongoing roles as Center Associate of the University of Michigan Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, head faculty collaborator for the U-M Asia Library Chinese Dance Collection, and co-editor with Dr. Mary Gallagher of the “China Understandings Today” book series at the University of Michigan Press.


Dr. Wilcox is a leading scholar of 20th and 21st-century Chinese dance and performance studies, with broader specializations in PRC history, Chinese gender and ethnic minority studies, Sinophone and Chinese diaspora studies, and Inter-Asia cultural studies. Dr. Wilcox received major fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council for her first book, Revolutionary Bodies: Chinese Dance and the Socialist Legacy, published by the University of California Press in 2018. Revolutionary Bodies won the Dance Studies Association’s 2019 de la Torre Bueno Prize®  and is the first in-depth English-language primary source-based history of dance in the People’s Republic of China. Revolutionary Bodies is available Open Access through the support of a University of Michigan TOME grant. Interested readers can listen to a podcast about the book in English or view book talks by Wilcox delivered in English and Chinese. A Chinese translation of Revolutionary Bodies was published in 2023 by Fudan University Press.

Dr. Wilcox has published two edited collections on dance in Asia. Corporeal Politics: Dancing East Asia, co-edited with Dr. Katherine Mezur, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2020 and is the first scholarly book in English to examine diverse styles of dance and their relationship to politics across the East Asia region, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, North and South Korea, and Taiwan. Inter-Asia in Motion: Dance as Method, coedited with Dr. Soo Ryon Yoon and published by Routledge in 2023, is based on a special issue of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies and explores dance as a mode of inter-Asia referencing, circulation, and interaction across East, South, and Southeast Asia. Since 2013, Dr. Wilcox has collaborated with U-M Chinese Studies Librarian Dr. Liangyu Fu to create the University of Michigan Asia Library Chinese Dance Collection, now the largest collection of primary sources on Chinese dance history outside China. As part of this project, Wilcox and Fu co-created the Pioneers of Chinese Dance digital photograph archive and the original exhibition “Chinese Dance: National Movements in a Revolutionary Age, 1945-1965,” both launched in 2017. The collection and exhibit are the subject of a co-authored bilingual Open Access book project currently under contract with Maize Books.

In addition to dance, Wilcox also publishes on film and media. Dr. Wilcox’s new forthcoming edited collection Teaching Film from the People’s Republic of China, co-edited with Dr. Zhuoyi Wang and Dr. Hongmei Yu, will be published by the MLA Options for Teaching series in early 2024. Wilcox is also an active translator. Creating with Roots: Contemporary Chinese National Folk Dance Choreography, Dr. Wilcox’s English translation of an important Chinese-language dance studies monograph by Dr. Xu Rui, Dean of the Beijing Dance Academy, is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press in 2024. Dr. Wilcox’s current book project is a new monograph tentatively titled Performing Solidarities: Dancing the World in Mao’s China, 1949-1976, which explores transnational dance exchanges in socialist China during the Cold War. Dr. Wilcox has received grants for this project from the Wilson Center China Program, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, and the Fund for Historical Studies and the George F. Kennan Member Fund at the Institute for Advanced Study.

Apart from book-length works, Dr. Wilcox has published over thirty scholarly journal articles and book chapters, in both English and Chinese, in venues such as Twentieth-Century China, The Journal of Asian Studies, positions: asia critique, China Perspectives, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Asian Theatre Journal, TDR: the Drama Review, Journal of the Beijing Dance Academy, Journal of the Society for Dance Documentation and History, Wudao pinglun (Dance Review), and numerous edited collections.

Education and Professional Service

Dr. Wilcox received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 2003, her MPhil from the University of Cambridge in 2004, and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011. She was a Blakemore Freeman Fellow at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Study at Tsinghua University in 2007-2008, a visiting Fulbright scholar at the Beijing Dance Academy in 2008-2009, and a non-residential postdoctoral research fellow at the Shanghai Theatre Academy in 2011-2013. Wilcox served as President of the Association for Asian Performance in 2015-2017, Board Member of the Society for Dance History Scholars in 2014-2016, and Board Member of the Dance Studies Association in 2019-2023. She is currently a member of the Board of the Historical Society for Twentieth-Century China and the East and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, as well as co-editor of the new book series “Dance in the 21st Century” with Bloomsbury. In 2021, she served as Interim Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at William & Mary, where she also directed the Chinese Studies Program from 2021-2023. In 2021-2023, she was also a member of the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on US-China Relations. Wilcox is a member of the Advisory Board of Dance Chronicle and co-edits the book series “Dance in the 21st Century” with Bloomsbury. She also serves on editorial boards of dance journals and book series in China and South Korea. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Dr. Wilcox regularly lectures and publishes in Chinese and produces international events involving artists and scholars from China and the Chinese diaspora. She has been a visiting professor at Minzu University of China, University of Roehampton, and Yunnan Arts University.

Teaching and Mentoring

In 2019, Dr. Wilcox received the Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award for outstanding teaching of undergraduates at the University of Michigan. At William & Mary, she teaches courses on Chinese film, popular culture, and cultural history, as well as Asian and Asian diaspora dance studies. Dr. Wilcox continues to advise doctoral students in the U-M PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures and has served as an external member on PhD committees at UCLA, the University of Maryland, The Ohio State University, Temple University, Texas Women’s University, National University of Singapore, and Emory University. As a first generation college graduate, Dr. Wilcox enjoys working with students of diverse backgrounds and is committed to overcoming barriers to higher education for all students. Syllabi for Dr. Wilcox’s past and current courses and a list of past and current advisees can be found here. If you are interested in applying to work with Dr. Wilcox, please email her directly at eewilcox@umich.edu or eewilcox@wm.edu for more information.

Emily Wilcox’s C.V.

Photo credit: John R Diehl