He is a film and media scholar who works on cinematic crossings between Japan, East Asia, and the United States. His first monograph, Sing Your Way to Heaven, describes the collisions between aesthetics, ideology, and pleasure in musical films produced in Imperial Japan during the so-called Fifteen Years' War (1931-45). Two articles from this project have been published: Imaginary Conquests: Folktales, Film, and the Japanese Empire in Asia (Ex-Position 42), and Whose Blue Heaven? Musicality in the Early Japanese Talkies (The Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema 10/1). Additional research and teaching interests include international film history, East Asian modernities, animation, and film theory.
Davis has a joint Ph.D. in East Asian languages and civilizations and cinema and media studies from the University of Chicago. Before joining Duke Kunshan, he spent two years teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences Core at Singapore Management University, and before that, three years in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Tsinghua University.
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