I am a historian of Chinese art and architecture of the modern period (1912-1949), with a broad interest in the history of 20th-century architecture and urbanism, and Asian art and architecture. My doctoral dissertation, entitled Writing Modernity: Constructing a History of Chinese Architecture, 1920-1949, examines the historiography of Chinese architecture at its inception, when both discourse and practice were dictated by the quest for the modern. I focus on the issue of modernizing Chinese architecture and the vernacular landscape of the city through the lens of a vibrant popular discourse that was later subsumed in the standard history of Chinese architecture. My inquiry is carried over to contemporary China’s transformation in the built environment, where I see the wholesale demolition of historic urban centers as directly linked to the historian’s inability to articulate the vernacular. Aware of insufficient communication between scholars working mainly in Western languages and those working primarily with Chinese materials, I also translate important texts from Chinese for English-speaking audiences in order to facilitate greater scholarly understanding and collaboration among art and architectural historians. My translation of two articles debating the issue of the conception and methodology of Chinese architectural history, an issue very much at the heart of the call from contemporary scholars to rewrite the history of Chinese architecture, has recently been published by PLATFORM (see links in Publications below). I have taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the California State University. Courses include a survey of 20th-century architecture, a history of Chinese architecture, a special topic exploring the modern and contemporary house, and a survey course on Asian Art. I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Growth and Structure of Cities department at Bryn Mawr College, teaching courses ranging from modern architecture to the form of the city.


Ph.D. History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara


Yan Wencheng. “Writing a history of Chinese architecture,” introduction to a 2-part translation on a debate about Chinese architectural historiography. https://www.platformspace.net/home/writing-a-history-of-chinese-architecture PLATFORM space, May 23, 2022.

Liang Sicheng, “Reading and Repudiating Errors in A History of Chinese Architecture by Yue Jiazao,” trans. Yan Wencheng:https://www.platformspace.net/home/reading-and-repudiating-errors-in-a-history-of-chinese-architecture-by-yue-jiazao PLATFORM space, May 23, 2022.

Yue Jiazao, “A reply to Liang Sicheng’s review of my book,” trans. Yan Wencheng: https://www.platformspace.net/home/a-reply-to-liang-sichengs-review-of-my-book PLATFORM space, June 6, 2022.

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