Profile picture of Joyce Cheng

Joyce Cheng

Associate Professor
Phone: Zoom ID 5413463677
Office: 240 Lawrence Hall
Research Interests: European modern art & poetics, history of the avant-garde, primitivism, Dada, surrealism, critical theory, methodological issues in art history & visual culture

Principally a scholar of surrealism, I research and teach in the visual arts, poetics, and aesthetic theories of international modernism and avant-gardes. At the University of Oregon, I teach courses on the history of European and globalizing modern art, with a focus on symbolism, dada, surrealism, primitivism, and the cultural and intellectual history of the interwar period. In my advanced seminars, I explore cross-disciplinary issues in the studies of art and aesthetics, such as style, taste, play, work and making.

My essays and articles on dada, surrealism and primitivism have appeared in journals such as Modernism/modernity, Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, and Gradhiva. I have contributed to edited anthologies such as Cambridge Critical Concepts: Surrealism; The International Encyclopedia of Surrealism; Surrealism: Key Concepts; Neolithic Childhood: Art in a False Present, c. 1930; and Virgin Microbe: New Dada Studies. My current book project, The Persistence of Masks: Surrealism and the Ethnography of the Subject (under consideration at the University of Minnesota Press), examines the question of subjectivity at the intersection of surrealist aesthetic theories and anthropology of the interwar period. Informed by the ethnographic dimension of surrealism, I am at work on two new projects: one revolves around the Japanese cultural icon Hello Kitty as an object of anthropological aesthetics, another consists of an investigation of international outsider art from the perspectives of autodidacticism (self-teaching) and critical folklore.

In my teaching and research, I endeavor to strike a balance between historical perspective and theoretical rigor. One persistent theme in my scholarship is the impact of peripheral, marginalized and common (popular) expressions on the visual and textual forms of diverse modernisms and the writing of art history. I have supervised student theses and projects on European and global modern arts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As an interdisciplinary scholar, I especially welcome working with students who can bring to art historical studies the perspectives of related disciplines such as literary theory, philosophy, anthropology, media and performance studies.