Sean Metzgerworks at the intersections of Asian American, Chinese, film, performance, and sexuality studies. His forthcoming book, "Chinese Looks: the Sino/American Interface and Skeins of Race," investigates the continually shifting US-China interface during the long twentieth century: from the Opium Wars in the mid-1800s to the recent Beijing Olympics. The analysis focuses on articles of clothing in theatrical and cinematic performance (the "looks" of the title) that shift emphasis from skin to the skein of race. He argues that particular forms of dress help us think anew about gender and modernity in pivotal historical moments when American views of China change. The book’s span covers a vast terrain from early yellowface performance to contemporary theater, Westerns to Chinese art house cinema, Anna May Wong to Jackie Chan. Metzger has also co-edited three collections of essays: with Gina Masequesmay, "Embodying Asian/American Sexualities" (Lexington, 2009); with Olivia Khoo, "Futures of Chinese Cinema: Technologies and Temporalities in Chinese Screen Cultures" (Intellect, 2009); and with Michaeline Crichlow, "Race, Space, Place: the Making and Unmaking of Freedoms in the Atlantic World" (a special issue of Cultural Dynamics, Nov 2009).
Metzger is currently a Framing the Global fellow with Indiana University and Indiana University Press for which he is working on a second book tentatively called "The Chinese Atlantic." This study examines site specific performances and on-location shooting in the Caribbean and beyond where Chinese investments—-fiscal and cultural—-help us shift understandings of local and national cultures.
Prior to his arrival at UCLA, Metzger was Assistant Professor of English, Theater Studies, and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. He was awarded the inaugural Fulbright Research Chair in North American Society and Culture at Concordia University (Montreal) and has also been adjunct faculty at Antioch University, Loyola Marymount University and the USC School of Theatre. In addition to his academic work, he spent three years in social services at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and as an independent consultant to school districts and other non-profit institutions. Most recently, he has reentered consulting work for Disney Imagineering.
A closeted actor and director, Metzger occasionally creeps on or behind stage.
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