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Dahlia Menghui Li


2023 Ph.D. Graduate
Dissertation Advisor(s): Margo Natalie Crawford, Karen Redrobe
"Caress without Body: Stranded Affect, Queer Diasporic Dancing, and Questions Concerning Technology"

Postdoctoral Fellow, The Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Swarthmore College

Dahlia Li is a dance artist, writer, theorist, and scholar currently completing a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a cultural historian and ethnographer who studies diaspora, gender, and embodiment between the fields of dance and performance studies, cinema and media studies, and literary studies. Her dissertation, Caress Without Body: Queer Diasporic Dancing and Questions Concerning Technology explores how the staging of the queer diasporic body in 20th and 21st-century dance models modes of engaging what Denise Ferreira Da Silva calls “matter in the raw.” She has written on Black Women and Monumentality for The Monument Lab and has a forthcoming chapter on describing dance in a new Routledge companion on Dance and Popular American Culture. 


She is in the early stages of developing a long-term serial performance/film project centered on Anna May Wong's lost television show "The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong" (1951) and run the "Dance and the Poetics" embodied laboratory with support from the Kelly Writer's House. She works as Jaamil Olawale Kosoko's dramaturg and edited their recent volume of collected poems and critical essays Black Body Amnesia: Poems and Other Speech Acts (2022). Since 2020 she has run the "Dance and Poetics" series through the Kelly Writer's House.  


Most recently she has performed in and/or created performances for: The Transgressive Body (ponder0sa, Germany 2019), Time Passes (Sharon Hayes & Brooke O'Hara, Philadelphia, 2019), Secret Journey: Rove (Pat Catterson & Yoshiko Chuma, New York, 2019), Delshakes: Much ado about nothing (Bi Jean Ngo, Delaware, 2018), OpenFlr (Elisa Zuppini, Florence, 2016), The Master's Festival Goldsmiths University (London, 2016), Festival Danse Directe Butoh (Normandy, 2015),  'Essercitazione Ritmiche' in the Venice Biennale (Claudia Castellucci, Venice, 2015), is part of the 2021 emergeNYC cohort through the Brooklyn Arts Exchange.

She has taught at CUNY, Princeton University and University of the Arts' Dance MFA where she was on the curatorial team for The School for Temporary Liveness Vol 2.0. She co-coordinated Penn English's Gen/Sex working group with Ava Kim and Melanie Abeygunwardana from 2018-2019 and co-coordinated the "Queer Urgencies Conference" and again and co-coordinated again from 2019-2020 with Kirsten Lee and Jacob Meyers. She is currently a curatorial associate for the  Clouds Gathering Performance Festival in New Lebanon, New York as well as a Graduate Student Representative for the CinemArts Special Interest Group through SCMS (The Society for Cinema and Media Studies) and a 2022-2023 Helena Rubenstein Critical Studies Fellow through the Whitney ISP.

She summa cum laude from Princeton University in 2014 with certificates from the Center for African American Studies as well as the Center for American Studies. From 2014-2016 she was a Marshall Scholar in London where they received an MA in Writing in the Modern Age from Queen Mary, University of London and a practice-based MA in Performance Making from Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Courses Taught

spring 2021

fall 2020

spring 2020

fall 2019

spring 2019

ENGL 101.404 Jane Austen and Adaptation  

fall 2018

ENGL 069.401 Echopoetics