Fred Shan

PhD candidate; Associate Lecturer

Thesis title: Gaming, Parody, Performativity: Play Culture in Contemporary Chinese Art

Supervised by Dr. Wenny Teo (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Funded by CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership

My research delves into the impact of global ludic culture on the production and consumption of contemporary art in China. Focusing on the generation of artists born in the 1980s – in the wake of China’s economic and social reforms – I examine how artistic tactics of gaming, parody and performativity serve to undermine existing preconceptions surrounding questions of subjectivity, community and political engagement in China.

My thesis also addresses the blurring lines between high art and mass culture, examines the power of the internet in China as a counter-public space, and problematises the perception of the artist as an agent of social change and political critique. In addition, I explore how considering art as a form of play allows us to reformulate notions of participation and public interaction both in China and in the global contemporary art world.


  • 2020–present: PhD Candidate, CHASE AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership, The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2017–2018: MA History of Art (Global China), The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2013–2016: BA Ancient and Modern History, Trinity College, University of Oxford

Research Interests

  • Ludology and digital play
  • East Asian visual arts and geopolitics
  • Mediated gender identity and performativity
  • Gaming and virtual worldbuilding
  • Memes and laughter
  • Networked society and cyberspace
  • Affective fandom and immaterial labour
  • Experience economy and global culture industry
  • Sinofuturism and techno-orientalism


Shan, Fred. ‘An Otaku with Chinese Characteristics?: Localizing Japanese ACG Currents in Lu Yang’s The Beast’. Screen Bodies 7, no. 1 (2022): 13–28.


  • 2023: Associate Lecturer, Histories (BA2)
  • 2022-3: Teaching Assistant, Frameworks (BA2)
  • 2022: Teaching Assistant, Foundations (BA1)
  • 2021: Teaching Assistant, Courtauld Summer University
  • 2021: Guest Lecturer, Global China (MA) and Body, Space and Power in Contemporary Chinese Art (BA)


  • 2020-2023: CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership
  • 2016: Kevin Knox Prize, Trinity College, University of Oxford

Other Academic Activities