Center for the Study of Asia Welcomes New Director and Board Members

Prof. Catherine Vance Yeh


Prof. Catherine V. Yeh, Associate Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been appointed the new Director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Asia, one of the affiliate area study centers at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and its Division of Regional Studies.

In welcoming her appointment, Dean Adil Najam of the Pardee School said that, “I am very happy that Prof. Yeh has agreed to take on this responsibility and I look forward to working closely with her in this role.” Prof. Yeh has agreed to assume the role for the 2015-16 academic year. Dean Najam added his admiration and word of thanks for the outgoing Director of the Center, Prof. Eugenio Menegon, who “has poured great vigor and energy into the activities of the Center, especially in the Pardee School’s inaugural year.” He expressed the confidence that Prof. Yeh will build on the fine traditions established by her predecessors, Prof. Eugenio Menegon, Prof. Joseph Fewsmith and Prof. William Grimes.

Prof. Timothy Longman, the Chair of the Council of Directors of the Division of Regional and Thematic Studies at the Pardee School, welcomed the news and said, “The Center for the Study of Asia has greatly strengthened Asian studies scholarship on campus. We look forward to Professor Yeh’s leadership in continuing to build this vital area of scholarly inquiry.”

Professor Menegon, a specialist in Chinese History and Center Director since 2012, commented:  “I am delighted to see Cathy at the helm. She grew up fully bicultural between China and the USA during the 1960s and 1970s, the heady period of the Cold War ideological battles, in a family that combined both East and West in its ethnic and cultural make-up. Cosmopolitan and elegant, Cathy is a superb and curious scholar, equally interested in the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences.” He added:

“BU students love her imagination and warmth in the classroom and as the main organizer of the popular ‘BU Asia Film Week’ that she has directed since 2010. For these gifts, she has emerged as a respected leader within the BU Asian Studies community, and I know she will bring her special touch to Center for the Study of Asia and the Pardee School in the coming year.”

Prof. Yeh is an expert on 19th and 20th century Chinese literary, media, and visual culture whose work has focused on the social and political implications of Chinese entertainment culture and literature, and its impact on social change in late imperial and Republican era China. Her most recent book is The Chinese Political Novel: Migration of a World Genre  (2015). She has been a recipient of a Jeffrey Henderson Senior Research Fellow grant at the Boston University Center for the Humanities; German Research Foundation project grants, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation project grants, and a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship. (More about her here).

Elections were also held for the executive board of the Center for the Study of Asia and four new Board members – Prof. William Grimes (Pardee School of Global Studies), Prof. Benjamin Siegel (History), Prof. Alice Tseng (History of Art and Architecture), and Prof. Anna Zielinska-Elliot (Modern Languages and Comparative Literature) – were elected to join the four continuing members: Prof. Sarah Frederick (Modern Languages and Comparative Literature), Prof. Sanjay Krishnan (English); Prof. Sunil Sharma (Modern Languages and Comparative Literature); and Prof. Nancy Smith-Hefner (Anthropology).

Many thanks to the Board faculty members who have served their terms: John Berthrong (School of Theology), Gina Cogan (Religion, CAS), Robert Hefner (Anthropology, CAS; CURA Institute) and Frank Korom (Religion and Anthropology, CAS).