Skip to content


My research has been focused on reading Ming-Qing novels within their specific cultural and aesthetic contexts. Although my approach to late-imperial fiction is grounded in the intellectual and cultural context of the period and refers to traditional commentaries for immediate “reader response,” the questions I ask are largely informed by recent critical concerns, particularly in the area of gender theory. My first book, Competing Discourses, analyzes the shifting fictional representations of gender and sexual desire from within the context of the neo-Confucian discourse of self-cultivation and the late-Ming cult of qing (sentiment). I argue that a poetics of gender based on yinyang numerology is an essential structural element in many Ming-Qing novels.

I am now pursuing several linked projects concering ritual, expression of emotions, the body, and representation of self. I spent eight months in the Number One Historical Archives in Beijing collecting legal records of domestic violence. I am also looking at the various representations of filial piety in legal records, fiction, and autobiographical writings. As in my earlier work, my goal is to uncover how the self is represented in different discourses and to tease out the implications of various narrative cliches that continue to shape the cultural imaginary of contemporary China.