Pioneering Chinese American actress Anna May Wong made more than sixty films, headlined theater and vaudeville productions, and even starred in her own television show. Her work helped shape racial modernity as she embodied the dominant image of Chinese and, more generally, “Oriental” women between 1925 and 1940.
In Anna May Wong, Shirley Jennifer Lim re-evaluates Wong’s life and work as a consummate artist by mining an historical archive of her efforts outside of Hollywood cinema. From her pan-European films and her self-made My China Film to her encounters with artists such as Josephine Baker, Carl Van Vechten, and Walter Benjamin, Lim scrutinizes Wong’s cultural production and self-fashioning. Byconsidering the salient moments of Wong’s career and cultural output, Lim’s analysis explores the deeper meanings, and positions the actress as an historical and cultural entrepreneur who rewrote categories of representation.
Anna May Wong provides a new understanding of the actress’s career as an ingenious creative artist.
About the Author
Shirley Jennifer Lim is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Stony Brook and the author of A Feeling of Belonging: Asian American Women's Public Culture, 1930-1960.
Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
Prologue: Anna May Wong in Los Angeles 21
1 "Speaking German Like Nobody's Business": Anna May Wong in Berlin 27
2 American Moderns in Europe: Anna May Wong and Josephine Baker 57
3 "I Can Play Any Type of Oriental": Anna Watches Josephine at the Casino de Paris, 1932 87
4 Glamourous American Moderns: Anna May Wong and Lupe Vélez 115
5 "My China Film" 153
6 Anna May Wong in Australia 181
Epilogue: Bold Journey, Native Land 201
Scholarship on Anna May Wong 219
Selected Bibliography 223