Book colloquium at UC Berkeley

Thanks to the invitation from Sophie Volpp and the Center for Chinese Studies at UC Berkeley, I had a memorable conversation with a lovely audience about my recent book Staging Personhood. Thank Ling Hon Lam for the conversation and for supporting the project from the time of its inception!

It’s the first time I talked about this book after it came about during the Pandemic. It wraps up a decade of my study in the States, coinciding with a turning point in the history of this country. We will all move on ahead!

Loving the Nation From Afar

A few students in my course “Romancing the Nation in Modern Chinese Literature” (2019) created this wonderful website titled Loving the Nation from Afar (click the panel on upper left corner to see pages). It selects from materials discussed in the course and showcases the complicated relations between China as a nation-state and “Chinese” people living in different parts of the world in the past century.

Credits: Xianzhen Deng, Kayla Johnson, Alexandra Triko

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 3.24.00 PM


Conference Presentation: Scenes of Corpses: Forensic Examinations in Early Modern Chinese Literature

Intercalary Conference on Late Imperial China-Gray.jpg

My Abstract

Scenes of Corpses: Forensic Examinations in Early Modern Chinese Literature

The past decades have seen a growing number of studies on literature, law, and medicine in premodern China and a similar interest in literary depictions of human anatomy in European history. Building on those studies, this ongoing project examines the representations of dead bodies in forensic literature of early modern China. In particular, it focuses on the scenes of corpse examination (shichang 屍場) in written, visual, and performance materials produced from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The project anatomizes various aspects of those scenes––dead bodies for examination; different participants including families, coroners, and spectators; various modes of viewing; and the media that enabled those experiences. With a focus on the dead bodies in forensic scenes, this project aims to reveal how forensic practices influenced the representation of personhood and justice in early modern Chinese literature and society. This presentation introduces the questions and materials for the project and invites critiques.


Problematizing the Paratextual Space in Traditional Chinese Drama Prints (Yale U)


Problematizing the Paratextual Space in Traditional Chinese Drama Prints

This paper considers the relationship between playwrights and their theatrical works through examining a group of drama prints produced in the Qing dynasty. Despite the longstanding tradition of portraiture in traditional China, fictions and dramas seldom included images of the authors. However, starting from the early Qing period, some drama prints included images of the authors in the form of portraits and figures in illustrations. That phenomenon was part of a larger trend in which playwrights and their scholarly friends increasingly took up the paratextual space for self-representation or communal conversation. The paper argues for an increasing authorial presence in traditional Chinese drama, a development enabled by changes in play production and shifting understandings of the dramatic genre.