Dr. Kin-Yan Szeto

Scholar Profile
Dr. Szeto profile picture
Dr. Kin-Yan Szeto
She / Her / Hers
Professor, Theatre Arts - Performance Studies
Department of Theatre and Dance
  • Ph.D. in Performance Studies, Northwestern University
  • M.A. in Film Studies and Screenwriting, Beijing Film Academy
  • M.A. in Theatre and Drama Studies, University of London
  • B.A. in English, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Research Interests: 

Theater, dance, film, and media studies; comparative literature; postcolonial and global studies; gender and ethnicity in transnational perspectives.


Dr. Kin-Yan Szeto is Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Appalachian State University. A productive writer, Dr. Szeto has over twenty publications. Her writings have appeared in scholarly sources including Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies, Visual Anthropology, Adaptation, Critical Stages/Scènes critiques, Dance Chronicle, Journal of Dance Education, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, and elsewhere. She has written for edited volumes on film and media studies. Her book The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora, according to the WorldCat database, is owned by over 1,000 libraries. Dr. Szeto has also shared her expertise with news outlets. In addition to her scholarly work, she has directed more than fifteen plays. Dr. Szeto has received numerous internal and external awards and grants. At Appalachian State, she is an awardee of the 100 Scholars Award given by the Cratis D. Williams School of Graduate Studies and a two-time recipient of the College of Fine and Applied Arts Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Creative Endeavor.

Highlighted Project

The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora

In The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora, Dr. Kin-Yan Szeto critically examines three of the most internationally famous martial arts film artists to arise out of the Chinese diaspora and travel far from their homelands to find commercial success in the world at large: Ang Lee, John Woo, and Jackie Chan. She posits the idea that these filmmakers' success is evidence of a cosmopolitical awareness arising from their cross-cultural ideological engagements and geopolitical displacements. Dr. Szeto demonstrates how this unique perspective allows these three filmmakers to develop and act in the transnational environment of media production, distribution, and consumption.

The book begins with a historical retrospective on Chinese martial arts films as a diasporic film genre and the transnational styles and ideologies of the filmmakers themselves. Dr. Szeto uses case studies to explore in depth how the forces of colonialism, Chinese nationalism, and Western imperialism have shaped the identities and work of Lee, Woo, and Chan. She outlines the similarities and differences between the three artists' films, especially their treatments of gender, sexuality, and power. She concludes by analyzing their films as metaphors for their working conditions in the Chinese diaspora and Hollywood, demonstrating how Lee, Woo, and Chan communicate not only with the rest of the world, but also with each other. The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora investigates the transnational nature of films, the geopolitics of culture and race, and the depths of masculinity and power in movies. Szeto's interdisciplinary approach calls for nothing less than a paradigm shift in the study of Chinese diasporic filmmakers and the embodiment of cosmopolitical perspectives in the martial arts genre.


More Information
Select Publications: 

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Teaching Beyond Orientalism.” The Journal of Dance Education, April 1, 2022, 1-6.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Yellow Peril: A Cosmopolitical Revision of The Chinaman.” Adaptation, vol. 15, issue 1, 2022, 127–141.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Lin Hwai-min’s Water Stains on the Wall: A Cosmopolitical Perspective.Critical Stages/Scènes critiques, issue 23, 2021.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. "David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu in Cross-Cultural Perspectives.Chinese Martial Arts and Media Culture Global Perspectives, edited by Tim Trausch, Rowman & Littlefield, 2018, 147-159.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “The Earnest Faith of a Storyteller.Oxford Academic Blog, Oxford University Press, September 27, 2016.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Ang Lee.” Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies, 2016.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Historical Avenues to Border Thinking: A Review of Tony Williams’ Postcolonialism, Diaspora, and Alternative Histories: The Cinema of Evans Chan.Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media no. 57, 2016.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Cooling Faye Wong: A Cosmopolitical Perspective.” Blackwell Companion to Hong Kong Cinema, edited by Esther Cheung, Gina Marchetti, and Esther Yau. Wiley-Blackwell, 2015, 359-378.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Ang Lee’s Life of Pi: A Cosmopolitical Perspective.” Chinese and American Language Films: Examining Cultural Flows, edited by Lisa Funnel and Yi-Man Fung, Routledge, 2014, 53-70.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Theater and Film.Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies, 2014.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Review of Women in Chinese Martial Arts Cinema of the New Millennium.” The China Quarterly, vol. 217, 2014, 269-271.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora. Southern Illinois University Press, 2011.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Calligraphic Kinesthesia in the Dancescape: Lin Hwai-Min’s Cosmopolitical Consciousness in the Cursive Trilogy.” Dance Chronicle, vol. 33, issue 3, 2010, 414-441.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Transnational China and Hollywood-ized Chineseness: Interventions and Discontents.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, no. 52, 2010.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “A Moist Heart: Love, Politics, and China’s Neoliberal Transition in the Films of Jia Zhangke.” Visual Anthropology, vol. 22, issue 2-3, 2009, 1-14.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “Jackie Chan’s Cosmopolitical Consciousness and Comic Displacement.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 20, no. 2, 2008, 229-261.

●  Szeto, Kin-Yan. “The Politics of Historiography in Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle.Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, no. 49, 2007.