Born in Harbin in 1971, Xiaofei Tian graduated from Peking University in 1989 and obtained her PhD in Comparative Literature at Harvard in 1998. She is the author of Tao Yuanming and Manuscript Culture: Record of a Dusty Table (a Choice Outstanding Academic Title) (塵几錄: 陶淵明與手抄本文化; 北京中華書局中文版), Beacon Fire and Shooting Star: The Literary Culture of the Liang (502-557) (烽火與流星: 蕭梁文學與文化; 臺灣清華大學出版社中文版), Visionary Journeys: Travel Writings from Early Medieval and Nineteenth-Century China (神游: 中古中國與十九世紀的行旅寫作, 北京三聯中文版), and most recently, The Halberd at Red Cliff: Jian’an and the Three Kingdoms (Harvard Asia Center, 2018). Her translation of a late nineteenth-century memoir with a critical introduction, The World of a Tiny Insect: A Memoir of the Taiping Rebellion and Its Aftermath ("微蟲世界"), won the inaugural Patrick D. Hanan Translation Prize in 2016. She is the editor of The Poetry of Ruan Ji, translated by Stephen Owen, in The Poetry of Ruan Ji and Xi Kang (De Gruyter, 2017), and the editor and contributing author of Reading Du Fu: Nine Views (九家讀杜), which is forthcomning from Hong Kong University Press in 2020. She is also the co-editor and contributor of the Oxford Handbook of Classical Chinese Literature (1000 BCE-900 CE), A New Literary History of Modern China, and a contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literature. In addition to her English publications, she has also published many books, articles, poems, and translations in Chinese, including a book on the 16th-century Chinese novel Jin ping mei (秋水堂論金瓶梅), a translation of Sappho's poetry ("薩福": 一個歐美文學傳統的生成), and a literary travelogue about the Moorish Spain (赭城). A collection of articles on classical Chinese literature, entitled Yingzi yu shuiwen 影子與水文: 秋水堂自選集, is forthcoming from Nanjing University Press.
She is currently working on a book project entitled Writing Empire and Self: Cultural Transformation in Early Medieval China, and a project on Tang dynasty tales about things, slaves, and automatons.
She was a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow in 2012 (Harvard University) and a recipient of Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2017 (Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences). In 2019-2020 she is awarded the Donald J. Munro Centennial Fellow in Chinese Arts and Letters (American Council of Learned Societies).