Dr. Sheng Zou is an interdisciplinary media scholar and Assistant Professor at the School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University. He is also a Center Associate of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, and a Visiting International Fellow at the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield (2022-2023). Zou received his Ph.D. in Communication and Media Studies from Stanford University (advised by Theodore L. Glasser). Prior to his Ph.D. training, he obtained degrees in English, International Relations, and International Journalism.
His research interests span such areas as critical theory, political aesthetics, digital media and society, cultural industries, and global communication. Through comparative and transnational perspectives, his current work explores the politics of cultural production (e.g., musical and digital screen cultures), aesthetic approaches to popular propaganda, the ethics of emerging technologies in societal governance, and non-Western algorithmic cultures/imaginaries. He also conducts collaborative, mixed-method research alongside scholars utilizing different approaches to explore a range of issues related to digital media and society through the use of large multimodal datasets.
Zou has written extensively on various aspects of popular culture, media/tech, and politics in China, from short video, live-streaming, and online parody culture to the making of soft propaganda, the mainstreaming of hip-hop, and the thrust of popular nationalism. He also studies Chinese digital diaspora. His doctoral dissertation on China's changing propaganda apparatus in the digital age was supported by the Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellowship (2019-2020) from the Stanford Humanities Center; it won the Nathan Maccoby Outstanding Dissertation Award. His work has appeared in numerous academic journals, including Information, Communication & Society, Digital Journalism, Journalism, Television & New Media, Cultural Studies, Communication, Culture & Critique, Journal of Contemporary China, among others.
He regularly reviews manuscripts and project proposals for a number of journals, publishers, and research foundations in the fields of journalism, communication, sociolinguistics, science & technology studies, political science, sociology, and global studies. In addition, he has responded to media requests from outlets across the world such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, VICE, Voice of America, BBC, Agence France-Presse, Euronews, Al Jazeera English, Nikkei Asia, South China Morning Post, China Daily HK, and Rest of World.
Besides his research activities, Zou is an experienced teacher. Currently, he teaches courses in communication and media studies at different levels at both HKBU and BNU-HKBU United International College, where he is co-directing the joint MA program in Communication (UIC). Meanwhile, he is (co-)advising undergraduate and PhD students in the School of Communication at HKBU. Previously, during his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, he mentored MA students in the program of International and Regional Studies. Moreover, he transformed his academic work into pedagogical resources in different settings. He helped community college instructors in the American Midwest to develop curriculum modules on globalization and East Asia; he also worked with teachers in Puerto Rico to develop lesson plans on global health issues. Earlier, at Stanford, Zou served as a teaching assistant and a sole instructor for a variety of courses in Communication, and received the Centennial Teaching Assistant Award from Stanford's Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning.