Ph.D, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto
M.A., Department of Asian Studies, UBC
B.A., School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London

I am an assistant professor in pre-modern Chinese literature in the Department of Asian Studies, UBC.  I received a BA (School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London), MA (University of British Columbia) and a PhD (University of Toronto), all in Chinese literature (modern and pre-modern).  After graduating from SOAS I lived and worked in Beijing for nearly four years.   I have researched, taught, translated and published on Chinese literature, language, culture, film, art and legal history.  I have been based at UBC’s Department of Asian Studies and the Institute of Asian Research since 1995, but taught at SOAS and Cornell prior to coming to UBC.  I served as acting Director (2003-2004) and then Director of the Centre of Chinese Research (CCR) at UBC (2004-2011) and Director of China Links: Professional Seminars at UBC (2010-2012) – a training program in Canada and China promoting engagement with North American business, government and NGO representatives.

I am also an active Trustee on the Board of The Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden Society.

CV 2018 [pdf]

Teaching Dossier [pdf]

  • Guest editor, Renditions. Vol. 70 (Nov. 2008): Violence in Ming and Qing Literature. (Editor’s Introduction: “Writing (And Reading) Violence”, 5-12).
  • Introductory note to “Shang Sanguan”, by Pu Songling, translated by Catherine Swatek, Renditions. Vol. 70 (Nov. 2008), 59-61.
  • Introductory note to “The Cold and the Dark: Extracts”, by Pu Songling, translated by C. D. Alison Bailey and Bonnie S. McDougall. Renditions. Vol. 70 (Nov. 2008), 65-67.
  • “Reading Between the Lines: Representations and Containment of Disorder in Late Ming & Early Qing Legal Texts”. Ming Studies. Forthcoming, Fall 2009.
  • A Shield for a Pillow: A Cultural History of Filial Revenge. Book manuscript in progress. Under contract to Brill, due December 2009.
Translations (from Chinese to English)
  • Extracts from Chs 3-5 from Pu Songling’s “The Cold and the Dark” (17th century); in Renditions Vol. 70, 2008, co-translated with Bonnie S. McDougall. 68-88
Reviews / other
  • Review of Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China 1900-1950, by Haiyan Lee. Stanford, CA.: StanfordUniversity Press, 2007, in, The China Quarterly, March 2008 (no. 193), 197-198.
Conference and Workshop Papers
  • “History, Trauma, and Evasion: The Politics of Forgetting in “The Knot” and “SummerPalace” “. Centre for Chinese Research, IAR, Spring Workshop: “Politics, Memory, and Dissent: May, Fourth, June Fourth, and Beyond.” May 2009.
  • “On the Margins of Empires: Canada, Taiwan, Education, and Global Citizenship. A Think Piece.” College of Social Sciences, NationalChengchiUniversity, Taipei conference: “Globalization: Democracy, Institutions and Change.” June 2009.
  • “The Sichuan Earthquake: An Overview”, Forum on the Sichuan Earthquake and Burmese Cyclone: Observations, Reflections, and Actions, May 2008, Institute of Asian Research, UBC.
  • “Living Law and Changing Times: Wang Mingde’s (fl. 1674) Meditations on the Law”, AAS Atlanta, April 2008. (Part of panel entitled, “Circumstantial Evidence: “Living Law in Ming and Early Qing China”, organized by Alison Bailey).

My field is pre-modern literature, specifically fiction and literary criticism – my doctoral dissertation was on the 17th century commentaries of Mao Lun and Mao Zonggang on the Ming novel Sanguo yanyi (三國演義 The Three Kingdoms) – but my recent work is interdisciplinary in nature, exploring the intersections between law and fiction, state and society, historical memory, trauma, violence, emotion, mourning, filial piety, and visual culture.

I have two book projects close to completion.  One, (A Shield For A Pillow), is a cultural history of filial revenge in Chinese literature and law that examines the ways in which filial piety, grief, mourning and private and public emotions are linked to violence in word and deed.  My second book project, tentatively entitled, A Forensic Life, is a monograph study of Wang Mingde 王明德, the late 17th century jurist and his Dulü Peixi 《讀律佩觿》(A Bodkin to Unravel the Code). Wang’s book is an original, carefully organized, and practical readers’ guide for legal practitioners to master and implement the new Qing code.  Wang’s text represents a detailed distillation of knowledge of the Ming and Qing codes and their antecedents, including key concepts, memorization and cross-referencing devices, technical apparatuses and philosophical underpinnings.  Wang’s methodology is very similar to the reading and commentarial practices I explored in my study of late Ming fiction and drama criticism and I hope to draw larger parallels between apparently different fields of knowledge utilizing similar discursive strategies.

I also hope to build on my recent graduate course on ghosts in Chinese culture to continue my explorations of the themes of violence, anger, trauma, and injustice.

Winter 2019

ASIA342 Chinese Literature in Translation: The Vernacular Tradition Sections

Readings in drama and fiction, 800 to 1800 AD. The emergence of vernacular genres as distinct from and sometimes opposed to the existing classical genres.

Winter 2019

ASIA441A Masterworks of Chinese Fiction and Drama in Translation - CHIN FIC&DRAM TR Sections

Reading of a classic novel or play, with attention to intellectual, social, and political subtexts as well as aesthetic dimensions and problems of interpretation.

Winter 2019

ASIA499 Honours Thesis Sections

Restricted to fourth-year students admitted to the Honours Program in Asian Studies.

Winter 2019

ASIA570B Approaches to Asian Literature - APPR TO ASIA LIT Sections