Assistant Professor of History
+1 (203) 436-9291
Fields of interest:
Modern China, Cultural Revolution, museum studies, material culture
Denise Ho is an historian of modern China, with a particular focus on the social and cultural history of China during the Mao period (1949-1976). Her research on the museums and exhibitions of the Mao era—taking Shanghai as a case study—examines the relationship between exhibitionary culture and political campaigns. In addition, she is interested in urban history, the study of information and propaganda, and the history of memory. Ho teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on modern China, contemporary China, the history of Shanghai, the uses of the past in modern China, and the historiography of the PRC.
She is completing a book entitled Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao’s China. Using a wide variety of primary sources, including Shanghai’s municipal and local archives and oral history, Curating Revolution depicts displays of revolution and history, politics and class, and art and science, showing how China’s exhibitions both reflected and made revolution. It argues that exhibitions modeled political participation for ordinary people, creating a repertoire which in turn became the denunciations of big character posters and Red Guard exhibitions of counterrevolutionary evidence. The case studies of Curating Revolution—starting with the First Party Congress Site and ending with the Shanghai Museum—contribute to the understanding of historical narrative in political culture, to exhibitions as a form of participatory propaganda, and to Mao era class categories as defined by material culture.
Denise Ho received her B.A. in history from Yale College (2000), and an A.M. (2005) and Ph.D. (2009) in history from Harvard University. Prior to joining the history department at Yale, she taught at the University of Kentucky and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Works in Progress
Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao’s China (manuscript under contract with Cambridge University Press)
“The Old Society and the New Society: Towards a Material Culture of China’s Cultural Revolution,” in The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture, edited by Sarah Carter and Ivan Gaskell. Forthcoming from Oxford University Press (2016).
Articles and Chapters
“Making a Revolutionary Monument: The Site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party,” in Red Legacies in China: The Afterlives of the Communist Revolution in Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society, edited by Jie Li and Enhua Zhang. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016, pp. 25-55.
“From Landlord Manor to Red Memorabilia: Reincarnations of a Chinese Museum Town.” Modern China, Vol. 42 (1) (2016), pp. 3-37.
“Culture, Class, and Revolution in China’s Turbulent Decade: A Cultural Revolution State of the Field.” History Compass, Vol. 12/3 (2014), pp. 226-238.
“Reforming Connoisseurship: State and Collectors in Shanghai in the 1950s and 1960s” (改造文物鉴赏：1950-1960年代政府与文物收藏家的博弈). Frontiers of History in China, Volume 7, Issue 4 (2012), pp. 608-637.
“Revolutionizing Antiquity: The Shanghai Cultural Bureaucracy in the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1968.” The China Quarterly, no. 207 (September 2011), pp. 687-705.