Yu Wang

Assistant Professor


Yu Wang is a historian of sound, data, and technology, with a focus on the twentieth-century China. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Toronto in 2019 and has taught there and the University of Macau before moving to Cornell. His current book project, All Ears: Listening to Radio in China, 1940–1976, explores the dynamics of techno-politics in the Mao era, namely how loudspeakers changed the structure of information flow, the making of socialist subjects, urban and rural landscapes, and the formation of political culture in the early PRC period. Some of his research articles have appeared in journals such as Twentieth-Century ChinaKaiwu: Science, Technology and CultureJournal of Chinese Women’s Studies, and Monde Chinois-Nouvelle Asie in north America, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Europe. His second book project concerns the global history of decibels, interrogating the complex dynamics between the body, space, gender, governmentality, and sonic data surrounding the production and localization of acoustic knowledge across the world.

Research Focus

He is deeply interested in the techniques of listening and its interaction with society and politics. He engages with the fascinating life trajectories of portable radios, loudspeakers, wires, microphones, headsets, earbuds, and audiometers, which, together, conjure a ubiquitous soundscape. Shaping and at the same time shaped by the diverse use of various kinds of floors, walls, roads, and forests, this interconnected objects and ambience of sound facilitates intricate interactions and resonances among both human and non-human actors.


  • “Cicadas’ World: Headsets, Loudspeakers, and the Transformation of Auditory Culture in Modern China”(知了世界:耳機、喇叭與現代中國聽覺觀念的流轉》) in Dongjie Wang ed., New History (新史學), Vol. 17. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2024).
  • “‘Feminine Frequencies’: Gender, Radio, and the Auditory Culture of Revolution in 1940s China” (《女性的頻率:性別、廣播與1940年代中國革命的聽覺文化》)Max Xiaobing Tang, Ling Kang, eds., Listening to Modern China (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe, 2024). A substantially expanded version of the earlier publication under the same title.
  • “A Missionary’s Prescription for China to Search for Wealth: A Frequency Analysis of Certain Vocabularies in Timothy Richard’s Shishi Xinlun”(《一位傳教士給中國的求富藥方:李提摩太〈時事新論〉用詞頻率分析》), Christianity Studies (基督教學術)Vol. 16. (Shanghai: Sanlian shudian, 2023).
  • “A Tale of Two Eggs: A Medical History of Communist ‘Tongues and Mouthpieces’ ” (《從兩枚雞蛋說開去——關於喉舌的一段醫療史》)PolyU, Kaiwu: Science, Technology and Culture 2, 2023.
  • “Timothy Richard, Numbers, and Knowledge Qiao-Yi in the Late Qing Dynasty,” Journal for the Study of Christian Culture, Vol. 49, Eschatologie und Hoffnung (Spring 2023):  170-189.
  • “‘Feminine Frequencies’: Gender, Radio, and the Auditory Culture of Revolution in 1940s China”, Women’s History Today, 2022 (2).
  • “Listening to the Enemy: Radio Consumption and Technological Culture in Maoist China”, Twentieth-Century China 47, 2022 (2).
  • “India as Method: Timothy Richard, Min Ben, and the Reception of Colonial Discourses in Fin de Siècle China”, Monde Chinois Nouvelle Asie 68, 2022(2). 
  • “Education Policies and Theories in Manchukuo”, in Jonathan Hernshaw, Craig A. Smith and Norman Smith, eds. Translating the Occupation: The Japanese Invasion of China (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2021).
  • “‘Feminine Frequencies’: Gender, Radio, and the Auditory Culture of Revolution in 1940s China” (《女性的頻率:性別、廣播與1940年代中國革命的聽覺文化》), Journal of Chinese Women’s Studies (婦女研究論叢), 2021(4).
  • “Revolution’s Polyphony: Radio Announcers and the Localization of Socialist Broadcasting Aesthetics”(革命的復調地方視野下的社會主義播音風格)Theory and Criticism of Literature and Art (文藝理論與批評), 2021(3).
  • Timothy Richard, Review of the Times (時事新論)Wang Yu. ed., (Guangzhou: Nanfang ribao chibanshe, 2021).
  • Second author with Ping-Chun Hsiung (first author), “Unmasking China’s Great Leap Forward and Great Famine (1958-1962) Through Shunkouliu (顺口溜).” Qualitative Inquiry 25, no. 8 (October 2019): 811–21.
  • “The Structure of Knowledge in the Age of Imperialism: Timothy Richard and Lieguobiantong xingshengji” (帝國主義時代知識的構成:論李提摩太《列國變通興盛記》), Christianity Studies, (June 2018): 252-264.
  • Timothy Richard, The Histories of the Countries to Reach Strength and Prosperity Review of the Times (列國變通興盛記), Wang Yu, ed., (Guangzhou: Nanfang ribao chibanshe, 2018).
  • Jeffrey Pilcher (first author), Yu Wang, Jackson Guo, “‘Beer with Chinese Characteristics’: Marketing Beer Under Mao,” RAE 58, (May/June 2018): 303-315. 
  • “Let Xianglin’s Wife Speak: Revolution and Acoustic Practices of the Chinese Communist Party” (让祥林嫂说话:革命与共产党的声音实践), Chinese Language and Literature Research (汉语言文学研究) 9, (April 2018), 57-66.
  • “The Technology of Listening: Radio Set, Space, and Acoustic Modernity in  Shanghai, 1929-1932 (“的技术:收音机、空间与技术现代性(1929-1932), Literature and Culture 33, (Spring 2018): 41-52.
  •  “Textbooks, Gramophone and Radio in Republican Soundscape, 1912-1937,” (《民国声域里的课本、留声机与广播 1912-1937) Hot Wind: The Journal of Cultural Studies (热风:文化研究) 1, 2016: 46-57.