LSA writer Gina Balibrera, in her article, Signature Style, traces the longtime dream of Professor Markus Nornes to connect calligraphy and cinema - which ultimately came to fruition in Brushed in Light: Calligraphy in East Asian Cinema (University of Michigan Press and TOME, 2021). 


“Both cinema and calligraphy are artforms that are records of the human body in motion [...] When you’re watching a film, Nornes says, “the time and space of the set are made totally present to you in a unique and powerful way. And calligraphy does that as well.” 

This still from Zhang Yimou’s film Hero (Yingxiong, 2002) shows one of many scenes of calligraphic writing. Here, the actor uses seal style, which was prominent when this film is set, in 227 B.C. Courtesy of Miramax


Balibrera shares that Nornes credits UROP students [...] for helping him turn his work into a book. “I had never registered certain themes and motifs, until I could pick out these patterns in the corpus created by the UROP students,” Nornes says. For more about Nornes's creative journey and the role of UROP researchers in his work, read Balibrera's full article here



"Markus Nornes’ Brushed in Light is a fantastic investigation of the history and importance of calligraphy in East Asian cinema...The text is not only original in its fundamental topic, but fascinating in its depth of detail and generally superb in its execution. Nornes deftly combines discussions of calligraphy’s history and conservative protection under formal schools with the novel, playful, and exceptional use in cinema in a way that is engaging even to those without a background in the various fields his book straddles." - International Journal of Asian Studies