You are here

Cheng Earns Guggenheim Fellowship

USC Theatre professor and director of critical studies is recognized for stellar fine arts research.

April 10, 2008

This article was originally published on April 10, 2008 by USC News.

By Tony Sherwood

Meiling Cheng, USC School of Theatre associate professor and director of critical studies, has been named a 2008 fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Cheng was the only faculty member at USC to be awarded a Guggenheim this year and was recognized in the category of fine arts research that will allow her to work full time on the completion of her book manuscript, Beijing Xingwei: Contemporary Time-based Art in China.

"I am very pleased that Dr. Cheng’s scholarship is being honored by the Guggenheim Foundation," said School of Theatre Dean Madeline Puzo. "Dr. Cheng is an exemplary member of our faculty. She is an excellent scholar, an engaging writer and a wonderful, dedicated teacher. We are very proud that she is a part of our school."

Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Cheng came to the United States in 1986 to study at the School of Drama at Yale University, where she earned her MFA (1989) and DFA (1993) degrees in Theatre Arts.

She began teaching at USC in 1994 and has taught a variety of courses in theatre history, dramatic literature, contemporary kinesthetic theatre and live art, and visual and cultural studies.

Cheng is a noted performance art critic and poet and has published widely in both English and Chinese. Her first book, In Other Los Angeleses: Multicentric Performance Art (University of California Press, 2002), received a Junior Faculty Award from the Southern California Studies Center and the Zumberge Individual Research Grant from USC.

She won another Zumberge Individual Research Grant in 2006 to conduct fieldwork in Beijing for Beijing Xingwei.

Since 2004, Cheng has published a series of groundbreaking articles in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia on performance art (translated as "xingwei yishu") and installation ("zhuangzhi yishu") in China’s post-Mao era.

She also presented numerous papers on Chinese experimental art, traveling to Singapore, London, Boston, Providence, Chicago, Toronto and New York for her talks. She will be giving two papers on performative photographs and documenting time-based art in Copenhagen this summer.

Since 1925, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has annually offered Fellowships to artists, scholars and scientists in all fields. Based on recommendation from panels and juries involving hundreds of distinguished artists and scientists, 190 Fellowships have been granted this year, with awards totaling $8,200,000. Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of impressive achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.