Assistant Professor of Italian Studies
Associate Head (Italian Studies)
Undergraduate Advisor for Minors in Italian and Honours in Romance Studies
Affiliated Faculty at the Institute for European Studies
Affiliated Faculty at Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program

Ph.D., New York University

B.A., Beijing Foreign Studies University

Gaoheng Zhang is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies at the University of British Columbia. He is a humanities scholar of migration, mobilities, multiculturalism, media, rhetoric, ethics, masculinity, and meaning-making. His most recent research seeks to provide a road map for analyzing how movements and communications created networks with enough cultural resources to frame non-fiction and fiction narratives about entrepreneurship, politics, and gender. His case studies pertain to Italy’s global networks, which are created through migration, colonialism, and business and leisure travel during the 19th-21th centuries.

Gaoheng is a leading cultural critic of Chinese migration to Italy, which has generated considerable debate in the Italian, Chinese migrant, and international media because of migrants’ economic clout. This is the subject of his forthcoming book from University of Toronto Press in June 2019, titled Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012, which is the first detailed media and cultural study of the Chinese migration from both Italian and Chinese migrant perspectives, as well as one of the few book-length analyses of migration and culture. Previously he has published several key articles on gender and ethics in cinematic and literary depictions of migrants, and of men, in Italy. His new book project, tentatively titled “Mobilities and Cultures: Italy, China, North America” will offer an innovative critical framework to address Italian-Chinese relationships, —the longest-standing European-Chinese exchanges in written record—, by analyzing the mobile and discursive methods and effects of exiles, colonizers, (political) pilgrims, tourists, and migrants in cultural production.

Gaoheng serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies (2014-Present) and on the Publications Committee of the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program for Canada’s Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2017-20).

Before joining UBC, Gaoheng held positions as Assistant Professor of Italian Cinema at the University of Toronto and as a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities (now the USC Society of Fellows) at the University of Southern California. He was educated at Beijing Foreign Studies University (B.A.) and at New York University (M.A., Ph.D.).

To learn more about Gaoheng’s publications, visit


Visiting Professor, Department of Languages, Literatures and Intercultural Studies, University of Florence, 2018.

Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2018.       

SSHRC Exchange Grant: Arts International Conference Travel, University of British Columbia, 2018.

Bridge Funding, University of British Columbia, 2017.

SSHRC Exchange Grant: Arts Workshop & Visiting Speakers, University of British Columbia, 2017.

The Arts Undergraduate Research Award (AURA), University of British Columbia, 2017.

The International Work Learn Award, University of British Columbia, 2017.

UBC Green College Leading Scholar, 2016-18.

UBC Hampton Fund Research Grant – New Faculty Award, 2016-18.

The Schoff Publication Fund Award, The University Seminars, Columbia University, 2016.

The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Grant, 2016.

Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholarship in the Humanities (now The USC Society of Fellows), University of Southern California, 2012-14.

First alternate, National Endowment for the Humanities Post-doctoral Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies, The American Academy in Rome, 2012.

The Modern Language Association of America Travel Grant, 2012.

Full scholarship from the Refresher Program for Teachers of Italian Abroad, University for Foreigners in Perugia, 2008.

Marietta Di Croce Fellowship, Department of Italian Studies, New York University, 2006.

Dean’s Travel Grants, Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University, 2005 and 2009.


  • Italian Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Migration Studies
  • Mobility Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Masculinity Studies
  • Ethnic and Racial Studies
  • Media and Film Studies
  • Rhetoric and Communication Studies
  • Ethics and Morality


Book projects

  1. Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012

(In press; University of Toronto Press, June 2019. Funded by the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholars Program in the Humanities at the University of Southern California, the Schoff Publication Fund Award at Columbia University, and Awards to Scholarly Publications Program by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.)

2. “Mobilities and Cultures: Italy, China, North America

(In progress. Funded by UBC Hampton Fund Research Grant – New Faculty Award, 2016-18 and The Arts Undergraduate Research Award and The International Work Learn Award, UBC, 2017.)


Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012 (In press at University of Toronto Press; release date: June 2019).

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles
“Documentary films on migrations in Italy: characteristics and ethics. Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 6/1 (2018), pp. 3-14.

“Chinese Migrants, Morality, and Film Ethics in Italian Cinema.” Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 22/3 (2017), pp. 385-404.

“Il razzismo anti-cinese nella stampa italiana e la reazione della stampa migrante cinese: il caso della rivolta della Chinatown milanese,” Studi culturali, 2/2016 (2016), pp. 195-208.

“Insegnare la lingua e la cultura italiane agli studenti di origine cinese in Nord America: nuove risorse didattiche per un approccio multiculturalista,” Cultura & Comunicazione, 6:9 (2016), pp. 23-25.

“Contemporary Italian Novels on Chinese Immigration to Italy,” California Italian Studies Journal, 4:2 (2014), pp. 1-38.

“The Protest in Milan’s Chinatown and the Chinese Immigrants in Italy in the Media (2007-9),” Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 1:1 (2013), pp. 21-37.

“Italian Male Travelers at the Borderline: Masculinities and Liminal Spaces in Lamerica and Il ladro di bambini by Gianni Amelio,” The Italianist (Film Issue) 32 (2012), pp. 238-55.

Peer-reviewed Book Chapters

“Chinese Migrants and the ʻChinese Mafia’ in Contemporary Italian Culture,” in Transcending Borders: Selected Papers in East Asian Studies, edited by Valentina Pedone and Sagiyama Ikuko, pp. 67-86. Firenze: Firenze University Press, 2016.

“Comedy Film and Immigration to Italy: Reading Masculinity, Hybridity, and Satire in Lezioni di cioccolato (2007), Questa notte è ancora nostra (2008), and Into Paradiso (2010),” in The Cinemas of Italian Migration: European and Transatlantic Narratives, edited by Sabine Schrader and Daniel Winkler, pp. 263-279. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.

“The Three Riddles in Puccini’s Turandot: Masculinity, Empire, and Orientalism,” in Der musikalisch modellierte Mann: Interkulturelle und interdisziplinäre Männlichkeitsstudien zur Oper und Literatur des 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Ester Saletta and Barbara Hindinger, pp. 397-416. Vienna: Praesens, 2012.

Edited Journal Issue
“Documentary Films on Migrations in Italy”. Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 6/1 (2018), pp. 3-122.

“Global Routes: China, Italy, Toronto” (co-curated with Paolo Frascà and Jennifer Lau), an exhibition at the John M. Kelly Library at the University of Toronto (May-June, 2016), at the Carrier Gallery at Columbus Centre in Toronto (July, 2016), and at UBC Robson Square. (Funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, 2016.)

Invited Media Essays
“Made in Italy by Chinese in Prato: The ‘Carrot and Stick’ Policy and Chinese Migrants in Italy,” China Policy Institute Blog, University of Nottingham, UK, October 22, 2015.

“Italy and China, Europe and East Asia: Centuries of Dialogue,” Corriere Canadese, April 5, 2016, p. 16.


“Movement and Mobility – a European Perspective,” The Source, November 7-21, 2017 (Interviewed and cited by Jake McGrail).

“Tra vecchi stereotipi e nuove abitudini inizia l’anno del serpente nelle Chinatown italiane,” Huffington Post Italia, January 30, 2013 (Interviewed and cited by Francesca Bellino).

Film Reviews      

Caffè, by Cristian Bortone (2016),” Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 6/2 (2018), pp. 252-254.

My Reincarnation, by Jennifer Fox (2011),” Italian American Review, 3/2 (2013), pp. 151-153.

“La Fuga/Escape” by Francesca Bellino, Journal of Italian Translation, VI:1&2 (2011), pp. 100-115.

Co-Edited Volumes

Ed. (With Jessica Goethals and Valerie McGuire) Power and Image in Early Modern Europe. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.

Ed. (With Francesco Guardiani and Salvatore Bancheri) Italy and China: Centuries of Dialogue. Firenze: Franco Cesati Editore, 2017.


Winter 2018

ITST110 Introduction to Italian Literature and Culture Sections

Winter 2018

ITST232 Introduction to Italian Culture II: From the Modern to the Post-Colonial Age Sections

Winter 2018

ITAL304 Italian Literature and Culture of the Modern and Contemporary Age Sections

The development of modern and contemporary Italian literature and culture against the background of social and historical events. Alternates with ITAL 303.

Winter 2018

SPAN501A Theoretical Approaches to Literature - TH APPR LIT Sections

Winter 2018

FREN512A Studies in Literary Criticism - LIT CRITICISM Sections