Runchao Liu

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Runchao Liu (she/her/they/them) specializes in critical media/cultural studies with a particular interest in sound-centered cultural practices and performances for ways they intersect with social justice and artistic activism. Her scholarship pivots around the interdisciplinary, transhistorical, and multisensory capabilities of popular music. Liu’s research philosophy weaves together feminist and queer theory, critical race/ethnicity studies, sound and affect, and performance activism through a comparative and transnational approach. She is currently on the University of Minnesota’s Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship to complete her project tentatively titled Sounding Orientalism: Sonic Affect, Musical Radicals, and Countercultural Troubles. This project unsettles the idea that Orientalized aesthetics and affects are only tools for nefarious agendas by unraveling how Asian American women rockers and indie musicians (ranging from the 1970s to the present) have transformed and reclaimed musical Orientalism as an artistic and political tool to dismantle the cultural myth of Asian American apoliticism. From the resurgence of the Oriental riff since post-60s popular music to post-punk's postmodern experimentations, from the women's music movement to queercore and riot grrrl, from Fanny and Tribe 8 to Japanese Breakfast and Mitski, this project investigates how the sounds, diasporic sensibilities, and imperialist imaginations of Asian America unveil the limitations of hegemonic formulations of musical activism and the relationship between sound, identity, and affect.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Communication Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN, 2021 (expected).


  • Critical Media Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Critical Race Studies
  • Feminist and Queer Theory
  • Music and Sound Studies
  • Asian American Studies
  • Performance Studies
  • Affect Theory
Courses Taught
  • COMM 3263w Media Literacy: Decoding Media Images and Messages
  • COMM 1101 Introduction to Public Speaking
  • COJO 4230/5230 Podcasting and Audio Storytelling
  • COJO 3530 Multimedia Production
  • COMM 4211 Communication and Popular Music (TA)
  • COMM 3631 Freedom of Speech (TA)
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Research Mentor: PalmDrive Education Technology Company , 2019 - present
  • Conference Reviewer: National Communication Association (Student Section; Asian/Pacific American Caucus; Critical and Cultural Studies Division) , 2018 - present
  • Conference Reviewer: International Communication Association (Popular Communication Division; Philosophy, Theory, Critique Division; Feminist Scholarship Division) , 2017 - present
  • Elected Representative: Graduate Committee, Department of Communication Studies, University of Minnesota , 2017 - 2018
  • Poster Judge: International Graduate Students Annual Research Showcase, University of Minnesota , 2017
  • Elected Officer: Communication Studies Graduate Student Association, University of Minnesota , 2016 - 2017
  • Vice President & Guitar Instructor: “Thorn Bird” Guitar Club of Hebei University , 2009 - 2011
  • Selected Officer: Student Association of Industrial and Commercial College, Hebei University , 2009 - 2010
  • Digital Mediation and Transnational Flows of Queer Fandom: Ambiguous Queer Performance on Chinese Social Media: Liu, Runchao, Critical Asian Studies, 2021. Link
  • Liu, Runchao. "Object-Oriented Diaspora Sensibilities, Disidentification, and Ghostly Performance." M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture 23 (2020):
  • Liu, Runchao. "Long Review of Popular Music and the Politics of Hope: Queer and Feminist Interventions." Current Musicology 106 (2020): 9-17.
  • Liu, Runchao. "Visions of China: Avant-Orientalism, Art Rock, and Conflicted Otherness." Cinéma & Cie: International Film Studies Journal 33 (2019): 107-120.
  • Liu, Runchao. "Collection Review of Rhetorics of Whiteness: Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education ." Communication Booknotes Quarterly 4 (2019): 175-177.
  • Liu, Runchao. "Retro Objects, Alien Objects." In Media Res (2018):
  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Graduate School, University of Minnesota, 2020 - 2021
  • Competitively Selected Participant, Doctoral Honors Seminar, National Communication Association, 2020
  • Summer Research Fellowship, Communication Studies, University of Minnesota, 2020
  • Graduate Student Scholar Award, Department of Communication Studies, University of Minnesota, 2019 - present
  • International Communication Association Conference Travel Grant, 2019
  • Top Best Poster Award, International Graduate Students Annual Research Showcase, University of MInnesota, 2018
  • Research and Creative Activities Grant, Communication Studies, University of Minnesota, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Maryan Schall Graduate Fellowship, University of Minnesota, 2018, 2019
  • Summer Research Institute of Popular Cultural Association Travel Grant (declined), 2018
  • Graduate Research Partnership Program, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, 2017
  • Selected Participant, LGBTQIA Student Leadership Retreat, Gender and Sexuality Center, University of Minnesota, 2016
  • Holland High Potential Scholarship, Maastricht University (€48,000) (declined), 2016
  • National Graduate Student Fellowship, Shanghai Department of Education, 2013 - 2016
  • Acceptance with First-Class Distinction, Shanghai International Studies University, 2013
  • Summa cum laude, Hebei University, 2013
  • Collegiate Academic Merit Scholarship (x3), Hebei University, 2009 - 2012
  • National Encouragement Scholarship, Ministry of Education of China , 2010
  • Dean's List, Hebei University, 2009 - 2012