Student Research Project: Meixuan Wang’s “The Feminine Fabulation: An Interdisciplinary Reading of Female K-Pop Idols’ Star Texts”

Meixuan Wang is one of the nine winners of 2022 Freedom Lab’s Shirley Graham and W.E.B Du Bois Award.

Her research project is highlighted below. Read other student researcher’s projects here >>

Supported by Professor Jung Choi

Project title:
The Feminine Fabulation: An Interdisciplinary Reading of Female K-Pop Idols’ Star Texts

Project summary:
This project presents an interdisciplinary examination of the complex and in-depth dimensions of society manifested in visual and entertainment culture by focusing on female K-Pop idols’ star texts in the globalization era. It shall revisit the potential of feminine qualities through female idols’ embodied dialogues with particular social and cultural ideologies. Ultimately, the findings on these postmodern star texts will be approached as fabulations that bring together “archaic and contemporary, as well as documentary and fictional” to produce collective storytelling, and in turn, contributes to “the making of a people” (Chow 2007, pp.25).

Interests in this topic:

(1) Though extensive works of star and stardom studies have been done in the past two decades, few have addressed the stardom genre of K-Pop idols in its national specificity of South Korea, where “a patriarchal tradition is deeply entrenched.” (Fung 2000, 153) Yet the meaning of South Korean womanhood should not be limited to the female underdog, in fact, 5 Ver 6. 2021/08/03 these women, either female idols or female fans, are “visible and active as an agent and producer of knowledge.” (Chow 2010, pp.79)

(2) Though most academic discussion on female pop stardom foregrounds gender and sexuality, the case of female K-Pop idols, especially its global reception, has broader implications. As a former victim of Hollywood cultural hegemony, K-Pop epitomizes South Korea’s struggle against the West’s cultural imperialism.

Current Stage
Currently, I’m doing literature reviews on:
(1) feminist media theorists’ outlook on the female body and body images in media representations and
(2) Jungian archetypes’ implication on the fandom craze.

I’m hoping that my endeavors can help me make sense of the following subjects:

(1) Reading the Feminine Star-texts Otherwise
(2) Red Velvet Feminism: The Lovely, The Creepy, and The Queer
(3) From Earphones to Speakers: Female K-Pop Idols’ Songs in Protests
(4) A Mediated Body Image: Virtual Idols’ Splash in the Metaverse Currents
(5) Branding Girl Power: A Case Study on the Rise of Girl Crush in K-Pop


Meixuan Wang

Meixuan WANG is a senior in Media Arts (History) from Beijing, China. Passionate about Sinophone studies, popular culture, and digital media, she has co-led multiple initiatives on cross-cultural communication. As a fervid believer in the power of cultural technology, she is looking for opportunities to further explore new, unconventional ways of telling stories whether that be through videos, podcasts, interactive media/design, or journalism, AR/VR, or film.