Dan Wang

  • Assistant Professor


European opera since 1750; film and film music; Asian American studies; genre studies; gender & sexuality; critical race theory; popular culture; affect theory; political theory.


Broadly speaking, my work focuses on aesthetic components of personhood in the modern West. I am interested in the history of forms, genres, affects, and rhythms that have constituted what a self feels like in (centrally) Europe and the United States. “Aesthetic” refers to cultural products like operas and movies, but it also refers more broadly to the forms that are available to organize and make sense of ordinary life. A lot of my method involves looking at narrative musical works (i.e. opera, film) as imprints or codifications of shapes and gestures that try to get at what something might have felt like in a certain historical moment.

My current book project makes the case that personhood has always been an aesthetic (and not just a legal or political or moral) category of the West, and details the structures and metaforms of this personhood in case studies of slow motion, addiction, romantic love, and genre across (primarily) European opera since the Enlightenment and Hollywood cinema.

Topics I’ve written about include 19th-century stage melodrama, time and speed in romance and the couple form, speeches in Hollywood film, Wagner and addiction, sentimentality and politics, Asian American aesthetics in the public sphere, and Colin Firth movies, among other things. I regularly teach courses on romantic comedy, media theory, gender and sexuality, political and critical theory, and especially welcome collaboration with students with broad interdisciplinary curiosities.  

Current and Upcoming Courses

Theories of Gender and Sexuality (GSWS graduate seminar, Spring 2021-22)

Media Theory for the 21st Century (graduate seminar, Spring 2021-22)

Sounds of Romantic Comedy (undergraduate)

Music and Politics (undergraduate)


Forthcoming “What is an Asian American style?” The Routledge Companion to Gender and Affect, ed. Todd Reeser.

Forthcoming “A Day.” Concerted Realisms, ed. David J. Levin and Mary Ann Smart.

2019 “The Voice of Feeling: Liberal Subjects, Music, and the Cinematic Speech.” Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies, ed. Nina Sun Eidsheim and Katherine L. Meizel.

2012 “Melodrama, Two Ways.” 19th-Century Music 36 No. 2 (Fall), p. 122-35.


2020 “Diversity, Depression, Institutions.” Project Spectrum, October 11

2020 With Elizabeth Alvarado. "Ghosts, Holobionts, and Superorganisms: Towards a Holographic Theory of the Political.” Panel at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference. Denver, CO, April 1-5

2019 "There's No 'I' in Feel: Non-Stop, the NRA, and the Democratic Imaginary." American Studies Association Annual Conference. Honolulu, HI, November 7-10

2018 “What is an Asian American Style? Superorganism in the Assimilated Public.” Music of Asian America: History, Activism, and Collaborations. University of Pennsylvania, November 9-11

2018 “The Timing of Liberal Political Fantasy (Some Textures from Opera and Film).” AMS/SMT Annual Meeting. San Antonio, TX, November 1-4

2018 Invited talk. “The Erotics of Fictional Worlds.” Opera Through the Eyes of Film. Neubauer Collegium. Chicago, IL, May 9-10       

2017 With Chaz Lee. “Yellowdrama: Traumatic Identity and the Model Melodramatist.” Trauma & Melodrama: Emotions in the Public Sphere. University of Chicago, April 21-22

2016 With Kirsten Paige. “Opera and Character.” Panel at the 19th Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music. Merton College, Oxford University, July 11-13

2016 Invited talk. “On the Subject of Hearing: Audio, Identification, Address.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference. Atlanta, GA, March 30 – April 3

2016 “Three Speeches by Colin Firth.” EZ Music Conference. University of California, Berkeley, March 11-13

2014 “Skepticism’s Moods.” Sound and Affect: Voice, Music, World. Stony Brook University, April 18-19

2012 “Cinema, Liveness, and the Limits of Criticism.” Opera and Cinema: The Politics of an Encounter. Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, November 9-10

2011 “Tennyson’s Ambivalence, Strauss’s Revision: The Tale of Enoch Arden.” Counterpoints: Nineteenth-Century Music and Literature. Fordham University, October 22-23

Education & Training

  • PhD in Music History and Theory, University of Chicago, 2017
  • MA in Musicology, University of Western Ontario, 2010
  • BMus in Piano Performance, University of Western Ontario, 2008

Faculty Groupings

Core Faculty

Main Department Affliliation

Assistant Professor