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Michael Hicks

Michael Hicks

Graduate Student

108 Weaver Building
University Park , PA 16802


I am a PhD student in the History and African American studies dual title program. My research focuses on Chinese reactions to and perceptions of African American travelers and jazz musicians in twentieth century China, with an eye to how Sino-Black relations changed during the Republican period (1911-1949) and into the early People’s Republic (1949-).

After graduating with my BA in 2013, I went to live in southern China (Shenzhen and Xiamen) for three years, teaching English and studying Mandarin Chinese. While living in China, I traveled extensively throughout the country and the Asia-Pacific region. I also spent the summer of 2017 on the Bunton-Waller Scholarship from PSU studying classical Chinese at the International Chinese Language Program (ICLP) at National Taiwan University in Taipei.

My previous research analyzed the role of hip-hop lyrics in exploring the relationship between Black and Korean residents in Los Angeles in the years prior to the 1992 Rodney King riots. In my current project, I track the evolution of cultural and political traffic between Black people and local Chinese, including the pre-1949 jazz scene in Shanghai and Maoist outreach to Black populations in the United States and in African nations during the Cold War.

Awards and Services:

2017 - Bunton-Waller Scholarship, The Pennsylvania State University
2017 - Charles and Harriett Pencak Endowment, The Pennsylvania State University
2016 - Graduate Scholar Award, The Pennsylvania State University

Recent Courses:

HIST 1 - The Western Tradition to 1500
HIST 10 - World Civilizations to 1500

Dissertation Chair(s):

David Atwill