Yanxiao He

Yanxiao He
Advisor(s): Richard Payne
Ancient Near Eastern History
Research Interests: cultural exchanges between the ancient Mediterranean and China, the Hellenistic-Roman East, performance and dance studies, critical reception studies, Global South Classics

Yanxiao is a doctoral candidate in the ancient history program. His current dissertation project, titled “Roman-Chinese Ethnography and Cultural Imaginaries on the Silk Road,” examines how Rome and China simultaneously developed ethnographic knowledge of the outside world between the Mediterranean and China in conjunction with almost simultaneous imperial expansions of these two regimes between the 2nd century BCE and 3rd century CE. By emphasizing transregional interactions among non-Western regions from Syria to China, this dissertation puts Greco-Latin literary productions into dialogue with Chinese literary productions.

In addition to his dissertation, he is preparing for two major follow-up projects. One is an intellectual history of Greek writers’ ambiguous attitudes toward popular performance from the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE when Mediterranean performance went global, with eyes on its contemporary relevance. The other is classical receptions in contemporary K-pop dance, especially concerning how ancient Roman pantomime mythological motifs are used to comment on the aesthetics of watching K-pop choreography, which similarly stresses performers’ visuality with rich gestures like Roman pantomime.

Working with the Shanghai-based media outlet Pengpai, he has been actively introducing American research on K-pop and hip-hop to Chinese audiences. The Korean Journal of Popular Music has published two Korean translations of his articles.

He received an honorable mention for the 2021 John J. Winkler Memorial Prize by contributing the first essay on a Hellenistic topic to it. He won the 2021 Erich S. Gruen Prize which recognizes his use of K-pop scholarship to understand ancient Mediterranean popular performances.