Sep 05 2022


5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


Department of Comparative Literature

Department of Comparative Literature

The Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures (CSGC), Department of Comparative Literature, and School of Humanities, The University of Hong Kong, present:

At the Edges of Sleep: Moving Images and Somnolent Spectators


Professor Jean Ma, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University

Moderator: Professor Nicole Huang, Department of Comparative Literature, HKU


Date: MondaySeptember 5, 2022

Time: 5:0p(Hong Kong Time)

Venue: On Zoom and F2F

All are welcome. Registration is required.

For registrants who select Zoom, we will send you the link prior to the event. For registrants who select Face-to-Face (F2F), we will write to you prior to the event with the venue location. There is a limited quota for F2F and we apologise if we are unable to accommodate all requests. All F2F participants must comply with the University’s campus access control measures.


This talk showcases Jean Ma’s forthcoming book At the Edges of Sleep: Moving Images and Somnolent Spectators. The book explores the deeply interconnected relationship between moving image art and the state of slumber. It engages each pole of this relationship in a wide frame: in the category of moving image art, Jean Ma includes examples from the earliest years of filmmaking, avant-garde and experimental films, art cinema features, and contemporary moving-image installations in non-theatrical spaces of art exhibition. To unpack the meanings of sleep, she turns thinkers from neuroscience, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literature, along with filmmakers and film theorists. At the Edges of Sleep considers sleep as both a subject matter portrayed on the screen and a state induced in the audience. It composes a history of sleeping in the movies, from George Méliès to Andy Warhol to contemporary Asian cinema; traces theories of spectatorship from the theater to the gallery, centering on the notion of a viewer who is not fully awake; and maps a broad cultural shift away from a longstanding negative view of sleep as absence, deficiency, or interruption, and towards a more positive conception of sleep as an artistic, social, and political resource.

Jean Ma has published books on the temporal poetics of Chinese cinema (Melancholy Drift: Marking Time in Chinese Cinema), singing women on film (Sounding the Modern Woman: The Songstress in Chinese Cinema), and the relationship of cinema and photography (Still Moving: Between Cinema and Photography). She is the coeditor of “Music, Sound, and Media,” a book series at the University of California Press. Her writing has appeared in Camera ObscuraCriticismFilm Quarterly, Grey RoomJournal of Chinese Cinemas, and October. At Stanford University, she is Professor of Art and Art History, Area Director of Film and Media Studies, and the Denning Family Director of the Stanford Arts Institute. Her forthcoming book At the Edges of Sleep: Moving Images and Somnolent Spectators was the recipient of an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writer Book Grant.

Enquiries: Georgina Challen –


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