Shaw Professor of Chinese; Professorial Fellow of University College
Faculty / College Address:
China Centre / University College
Pre-modern Chinese literature, with emphasis on drama, fiction, and poetry in the later dynasties; Chinese literary history and historiography; court theatre and performance; cross-cultural interactions between China and other countries.
I research in four broad areas outlined below, connected by my interests in the contexts of literary production, criticism, and performance in pre-modern China, the various means and forms through which texts survived, and the making of literary history.
(1) Pre-Modern Chinese Literature, Literary History and Historiography
My research focuses on drama, songs, and other forms of vernacular literature in the later dynasties of China. My book Songs of Contentment and Transgression: Discharged Officials and Literati Communities in Sixteenth-Century North China (2010) reveals how stigmatised genres such as sanqu songs and drama were used by discharged officials in pursuit of a distinctive voice and identity that differentiated them from traditional Chinese elites.
I am also interested in how literary histories are constructed and how they shape our understanding of the literary past. Some areas I have worked on include the significance of the Mid-Ming (roughly 1450—1550) as a literary period, the problems of “attributive authorship”, and the reconsideration of set categories such as North/South and elite/court/popular culture.
(2) Textual Studies and Editing
My research project on “Lost Songs” of Kang Hai (1475-1541)”, funded by the British Academy and the Sino-British Fellowship Trust from 2008 to 2010, focused on collating and punctuating a sixteenth-century sanqu collection newly rediscovered in Taiwan. Building on this project, I edited A Critical Edition of Kang Hai's Songs with Introduction, Notes, and Two Essays (2011). My engagement in textual studies has also led me to explore issues such as authorship, the instability of performance texts, editing practices of traditional editors and modern scholars, and the functions and limitations of anthologies.
(3) Imperial Court Culture and Performances
My new research project is on court theatre and performances in late imperial China. A Visiting Fellow Research Grant allowed me to conduct archival research at the National Central Library in Taipei. I was also awarded a British Academy Small Research Grant for a two-year research project on the role of literati playwrights in Qing court theatre. Another area I am continuing to work on is the imperial control over literary and theatrical productions.
(4) Reading Chinese Literature across Cultures
In recent years I began working on a few collaborative projects concerning cross-cultural interactions between China and other countries and the reception of Chinese literature across cultures. One focus is on Tang Xianzu (1550-1616), a major playwright and a contemporary of Shakespeare. Using Tang Xianzu and his rich cultural afterlife as a case study, I explore the ways in which major literary writers are regarded as local and national cultural icons, and examine the translatability of their literary legacies across cultures. See Research output: 1616: Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu's China.
Current Projects and Papers:
- Principal Investigator, ERC-funded project "TEXTCOURT: Linking the Textual Worlds of Chinese Court Theater, ca. 1600-1800"
- Co-Director (in collaboration with National Taiwan University), CCFK-funded project “Textual Forms and the Construction of Knowledge in Late Ming Qu Anthologies”
- contribution to "National Bards in Comparative Perspectives" Workshop, TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
- textual editing and translation of a play by Qing dynasty scholar Wang Wenzhi
- "Rhetoric in Ming Dynasty China", contribution to a chapter on Rhetorical theory and practice beyond Europe in The Cambridge History of Rhetoric, vol. 3: Rhetoric in the Renaissance c. 1415-1640, ed. Virginia Cox and Jennifer Richards (Cambridge UP, under contract)
- Literary Worlds and Cultural Flows in Pre-modern China (undergraduate)
- Research Methods (postgraduate)
1. Passion, Romance, and Qing: The World of Emotions and States of Mind in Peony Pavilion. 3 Volumes. Leiden: Brill, 2014. Vol 1: x, 522 pp; Vol. 2: iv, 502 pp; Vol. 3: iv, 524 pp. (Co-authored with Paolo Santangelo)
2. Kang Hai sanqu ji jiaojian 康海散曲集校箋 (A Critical Edition of Kang Hai's Songs with Introduction, Notes, and Two Essays). Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 2011. xxvi, 260pp. (Single-authored; PI of British Academy funded project, 2008-2010)
3. Songs of Contentment and Transgression: Discharged Officials and Literati Communities in Sixteenth-Century North China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010. xiv, 293pp. (Single-authored)
Chinese translation: 逍遙散誕之曲——十六世紀北方貶官士大夫及其曲家圈子(translated by Prof. Zhou Rui 周睿), Guangxi Normal University Press, under contract.
B. Edited Books
1. 1616: Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu's China. London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2016. xxii, 326pp. (Lead Editor and PI of CCKF funded project (2014-15), with Paul Edmondson and Shih-pe Wang)
2. Yingyu shijie de Tang Xianzu yanjiu lunzhu xuanyi 英語世界的湯顯祖研究論著選譯 (An Anthology of Critical Studies on Tang Xianzu in Western Scholarship). Hangzhou: Zhejiang guji chubanshe, 2013. xiv, 362pp. (Co-editor, with Xu Yongming; funded by Harvard-Yenching Institute and PRC International Project Network Grant)
3. Text, Performance, and Gender in Chinese Literature and Music: Essays in Honor of Wilt Idema. Leiden: Brill, 2009. xii, 468pp. (Co-editor, with Maghiel van Crevel and Michel Hockx)
Articles in Refereed Journals:
“Springtime Passion and Literary Tradition in Peony Pavilion”, International Communication of Chinese Culture, Volume 3, Issue 1 (2016): 57-65.
“Emerging from Anonymity: The First Generation of Writers of Songs and Drama in Mid-Ming Nanjing,” T’oung Pao 96 (2010): 125-164.
“The Transmission of Sanqu Songs, Writers’ Reputation, and Literati Network in the Mid Ming: Local and Translocal Considerations,” Ming Qing Studies (2010): 193-215.
“A Collation and Annotation of Kang Hai’s Newly Discovered Song Collection Pandong yuefu houlu,” (Part 2) (in Chinese), with revisions by Sun Chongtao, Studies in Culture & Art (Wenhua yishu yanjiu), Volume 2, No. 5 (2009): 145-175.
“A Collation and Annotation of Kang Hai’s Newly Discovered Song Collection Pandong yuefu houlu,” (Part 1) (in Chinese), with revisions by Sun Chongtao, Studies in Culture & Art (Wenhua yishu yanjiu), Volume 2, No.4 (2009): 117-134.
“Contending with Displacement: Two Forms of Retirement in Wang Jiusi’s Songs and Drama,” (in Chinese), Journal of Theater Studies (Xiju yanjiu), 3 (2009): 49-74.
“The Wolf of Zhongshan and Ingrates: Problematic Literary Contexts in Sixteenth-Century China,” Asia Major, Third Series, Volume 20, Part 1 (2007): 105-131.
“The New Discovery of Kang Hai’s (1475-1541) Sanqu Collection and Its Significances,” (in Chinese), Zhongguo wenzhe yanjiu tongxun (Taipei: Academia Sinica), Volume 16, No.2 (2006): 75-91.
“Prohibition of Jiatou Zaju in the Ming Dynasty and the Portrayal of the Emperor on Stage,” Ming Studies, Number 49 (Spring 2004): 82-111.
Chapters in Books:
“Song of Dragon Well Tea and Other Court Plays: Spectacle and Panegyrics”, in Patricia Sieber and Regina Llamas, eds. How to Read Chinese Drama. Columbia: Columbia University Press, under preparation.
“Ming Qing gongting juben zhi bianzhuan ji zuozhe wenti chutan” 明清宮廷剧本之編撰及作者問題初探 (A Preliminary Study of the Compilation and Authorship of Drama in Ming and Qing Imperial Courts), in Ming Qing gongtingshi xueshu yantaohui lunwenji, Vol. 2 (2017). Beijing: Gugong chubanshe, pp 435-447.
“Jiang Shiquan juzuo zhong de xi yu qu” 蔣士銓劇作中的“戲”與“曲” (Performance and Poetry in Jiang Shiquan’s Dramatic Works), in Tsung-Cheng Lin and Zhang Bowei, eds., Cong chuantong dao xiandai de Zhongguo shixue 從傳統到現代的中國詩學 (From Tradition to Modernity: Poetic Transition from 18th to Early 20th Century China). Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2017, pp.30-47.
“Traditions and Transitions in Eighteenth-Century Qu Poetry: The Case of Jiang Shiquan (1725-1785)”, in Tiziana Lippiello, Chen Yuehong and Maddalena Barenghi, eds., Linking Ancient and Contemporary: Continuities and Discontinuities in Chinese Literature. Venice: Edizioni Ca'Foscari, 2016, pp.229-245. (Sinica Venetiana series)
“Introduction.,” in Tian Yuan Tan, Paul Edmondson, and Shih-pe Wang, eds., 1616: Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu's China. London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, pp. 1-4.
“Sixty Plays from the Ming Palace, 1615-18”, in Tian Yuan Tan, Paul Edmondson, and Shih-pe Wang, eds., 1616: Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu's China. London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2016, pp. 96-107.
“Shared Words and Worlds of Love in Peony Pavilion,” in Tian Yuan Tan and Paolo Santangelo, eds. Passion, Romance, and Qing: The World of Emotions and States of Mind in Peony Pavilion (3 vols.). Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2014, pp. 1454-1481.
“Tang Xianzu and Shakespeare: Two Theatrical Cultures in Global Perspective,” (in English and Chinese) in Tang Xianzu-Shashibiya wenhua gaofeng luntan ji Tang Xianzu he Wan Ming wenhua xueshu yantaohui lunwen ji, ed. Society of Chinese Theatre Studies (Tang Xianzu Branch) and Suichang Association of Social Sciences. Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press, 2012, 24-29.
“Reflections on the Study of Court Theatre in Late Imperial China” (in Chinese), in Ming Qing gongtingshi xueshu yantaohui lunwenji (Volume 1), ed. Palace Museum. Beijing: Jijincheng chubanshe, 2011, pp.467-477.
“Rethinking Li Kaixian’s Editorship of Revised Plays by Yuan Masters: A Comparison with His Banter about Lyrics,” in Text, Performance, and Gender in Chinese Literature and Music: Essays in Honor of Wilt Idema, ed. Maghiel van Crevel, Tian Yuan Tan, and Michel Hockx. Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp.139-152.
“A Study of Kang Hai’s Composition of Southern Songs in His Later Years, Along with a Discussion on the Tune Title Langtaosha,” (in Chinese) Mingdai wenxue lunji, ed. Chen Qingyuan. Fuzhou: Haixia wenyi chubanshe, 2009, pp.1065-1076.
“The Sovereign and the Theater: Reconsidering the Impact of Ming Taizu’s Prohibitions,” Chapter 9 in Long Live the Emperor: Uses of the Ming Founder across Six Centuries of East Asian History, ed. Sarah Schneewind. Ming Studies Research Series, Number 4. Minneapolis: Society for Ming Studies, 2008, pp.149-169.
“The Discovery of Materials Related to the Mid Ming Writer Kang Hai and Its Significances,” (in Chinese) in Zhongguo Xiju: Cong Chuantong dao Xiandai (Chinese Drama: From Traditional to Modern Forms), ed. Dong Jian and Rong Guangrun. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2006, pp.179-196.
“A Study of a ‘New’ Huaben Story in Jingshi tongyan: ‘Ye Fashi Fushi Zhenyao’ (Exorcist Ye Subdues the Demon with a Charmed Rock),” (in Chinese) in Mingdai xiaoshuo mianmianguan: Mingdai xiaoshuo guoji xueshu yantaohui lunwenji (Aspects of Ming Dynasty Fiction: Proceedings of the International Conference on Ming Fiction), ed. Kow Mei Kao and Huang Lin. Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 2002, pp.354-371.
Review of Sophie Volpp, Worldly Stage: Theatricality in Seventeenth-Century China, in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 72.2 (2012): 430-437.
Review of Stephen H. West and Wilt L. Idema eds. and trans., Monks, Bandits, Lovers, and Immortals: Eleven Early Chinese Plays, in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, 21:3 (2011), 400-402.
Review of Daniel Bryant, The Great Recreation: Ho Ching-ming (1483-1521) and His World, in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 72:3 (2009), 581-582.
Review of Qingyun Wu trans., A Dream of Glory (Fanhua meng): A Chuanqi Play by Wang Yun, in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 72:3 (2009), 582-584.
Review of Zong-qi Cai ed., How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology, in Monumenta Serica 56 (2008): 519-521.
Any other information (e.g. consultancy, public engagements, positions):
- Secretary-General, European Association for Chinese Studies (2012-2018)
- Board Member, Ming Qing Studies
- Academic Board Member, Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture (Beijing Normal University)
- Academic Board Member, Sinica Venetiana book series, Edizioni Ca'Foscari (Ca'Foscari University Press)
- Academic Advisory Board Member, Zhonghua youxiu chuantong wenhua yanjiu 中華優秀傳統文化研究
- Board of Advisors, Renaissance Studies: Journal of the Society for Renaissance Studies, 2020-2023
- Editorial Board Member, Qingdai wenxue yanjiu jikan (Journal of Qing Dynasty Literature)
- Editorial Board Member, Xiqu yu suwenxue yanjiu 戲曲與俗文學研究
- Editorial Board Member, Korea Journal of Chinese Language and Literature
- Editorial Board Member, International Communication of Chinese Culture
- Editorial Board Member, Critical Survey
- European Science Foundation (ESF) College of Expert Reviewers, 2019-2022