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Dixon Li

Dixon Li


I am a third-year doctoral candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania with training as a cultural critic, poet, dancer, performance maker, and somatics teacher. I graduated from Princeton University in 2014 with a BA in English (summa cum laude, phi beta kappa) and minors in African-American Studies & American Studies. From 2014-2016 I was a Marshall Scholar in London where I completed MA's in Writing in the Modern age at Queen Mary (2015) and an MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths (2016).

At Penn I am pursuing graduate certificates in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies as well as Cinema & Media Studies. Situated at the intersections of critical black & race theories; feminist, queer & trans theory; literary studies; cinema and media studies; and dance and performance studies, my dissertation examines primarily North-American forms of racial embodiment that emerge when histories and practices of aesthetic form meet legacies of racial violence, oppression, and resistance. Key authors and artists include: Adrian Piper, Teresa Cha, Nella Larsen, Maya Deren, Julie Dash, Wu Tsang, Juliana Huxtable, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, and Be Heintzman Hope.

A second scholarly project looks at the relationship between electricity, modern forms and technologies of movement, and the politics of freedom in the long 20th century. Alongside scholarly writing I am working on a sonnet cycle in essayistic form performance, gender, and race tentatively titled "Diva Cycle." I co-coordinate the English Department's Gender and Sexuality reading group for the 2019-2020 academic year with Kirsten Lee and Jacob Meyers. 

Most recently I have 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), and  'Essercitazione Ritmiche' in the Venice Biennale (Claudia Castellucci, Venice, 2015). I have ongoing artistic collaborations with Be Heintzman Hope, Ogemdi Ude, Casey Brown, and Assaf Aharonson that explore, variously: tarot as a form of filiation; queer sisterhood; telepathic bases of dance; and the history of erotic dance. I am 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). 

I am a faculty member of UArts' Dance MFA and occasionally curate dance/performance.