Salty olives and sweet wine

This semester, my first on the other side of the table when it comes to graduate students, I've found myself returning to comfortable old favorites in the Early Modern [Chinese] Fiction course I've been assigned to teach. Lacking any restrictions other than the loose ones posed by the title of the course, I've elected to…Read more Salty olives and sweet wine

Embodying Guanyin, Embodying yaojing

For those who missed AAS this year, or went to one of the other amazing sounding panels on Saturday morning that were scheduled at the same time as ours, here's a recording of my paper: Paper abstract: In Liu Xiang baojuan, a popular Qing religious performance text, when exemplary protagonist Liu Xiangnü is likened to…Read more Embodying Guanyin, Embodying yaojing

Outlandish fables and Taiwanese curriculum reform

In the late 19th century, the period I focus on in my dissertation, one way of responding to the many crises that China was undergoing involved trying to morally realign society in such a way as to prevent such crises from ever happening again. This was on one level cosmic: heaven will no longer send…Read more Outlandish fables and Taiwanese curriculum reform

Audio recording of my paper presentation from the Association for Asian Studies Conference 2015

Click here for the paper abstract. Click here for the full panel abstract. For the sake of turning this into a movie for upload to Youtube, I included some of the images shown during my presentation. They aren't cued to the talk, however, so you needn't worry about following along. All images are also located…Read more Audio recording of my paper presentation from the Association for Asian Studies Conference 2015

Didactic literature that no longer seems edifying: what’s the point?

Lienü zhuan is a collective biography of exemplary Chinese women compiled at the end of the 1st century BCE. It was, according to Ban Gu, a 1st century CE historian, intended to counteract the influence of lower-class, immoral women who destabilized the dynasty and to provide the emperor with positive examples of female virtue so…Read more Didactic literature that no longer seems edifying: what’s the point?

Novel learning

One of the components of job application materials for academics is the teaching statement. Given the amount of introspection needed, it is not an easy piece to write, although it is the perfect piece for stewing over indefinitely. Over all these years of learning how to make myself write (with varying degrees of success depending…Read more Novel learning


When Che Xilun, preeminent Chinese scholar of baojuan (and incredibly kind man, if our email correspondence is anything to go on), compiled his catalogue of baojuan in China, Zhongguo baojuan zongmu 中國寶卷總目, he did so in part by collating previous catalogues into composite entries for each title. Given that his catalogue includes entries for over…Read more Sleuthing

Remarkable likenesses of Liu Xiangnü

While I don't think this is intentional at on the part of whomever put together this text, I find it hilarious that in describing its heroine, the narration accounts for the ill-conceived frontispiece illustrations that would grace so many editions of this text. "A clever illustrator would have difficulty sketching her, her remarkable likeness could…Read more Remarkable likenesses of Liu Xiangnü

Narrative Compass

In my non-academic reading recently, I've been enjoying the essays collected in A Narrative Compass: Stories that Guide Women's Lives. Though it may sound like a self help book, it's actually nineteen essays written by women academics - professors and students of literature, folklore or history; or librarians - about how some narrative affected them…Read more Narrative Compass

Filial modern women buy our towels!

I've included pictures from Yu Zhi's Illustrated Stories of Twenty Four Filial Women here before. Those illustrations come from the 1872 woodblock print edition, available via Google Books*. The University of Chicago library also has two editions of the text, with illustrations purportedly redrawn by none other than Wu Youru, the famous Shanghai lithographic print…Read more Filial modern women buy our towels!