Bio

I am a scholar of Chinese literature. My current research explores the relationship between the literary imagination and the act and materials of writing in the late imperial period (or the Ming and Qing dynasties). I am interested not simply in the physical formats and structures that shape experiences of literature, but in how premodern Chinese writers engaged issues of mediation and technology more broadly. 

My first book, The Matter of Inscription in Early Modern China (forthcoming with Columbia University Press), investigates practices of carving poetry and prose onto solid objects. I consider why seventeenth-century poets and calligraphers, amid commodification and the destruction of inter-dynastic war, confronted fears of being dominated by, or reduced to things, by writing upon the surfaces of objects. The book demonstrates how inscription came to constitute a form of literary thought uniquely attuned to the material contingencies and technical preconditions of writing in general.

I am in the early stages of a new book-length project, tentatively titled A Stack of Old Papers 古紙堆, that explores the interplay between ephemera and literature in the late imperial period. This study shows how collections of ephemeral papers (handbills, flyers, adverts, tickets, receipts) at once haunt and came to define the ways novels, short stories, and plays conceive of their own durability. My research investigates how ephemeral papers infiltrate well-known literary works, shaping new visions of quotidian sociality and time. 

I am also currently completing a project entitled The Lives of Artists in Early Modern China based on annotated translations of Zhou Lianggong’s (1612–1672) two masterworks, Biographies of Seal Carvers and Records of Paintings I Have Seen. This topic proceeds from my personal interests in the interplay between literature and other modes of artmaking. 

I received my PhD from the University of Chicago in 2017 and BA from the University of Oxford in 2009. Before joining Harvard, I was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan. I am currently serving as the President of the Society for Ming Studies.