Skip to main content

Jack Chen

Professor of Chinese Literature, Department Chair


My research and teaching focuses on the literary and intellectual traditions of classical China, as well as broader issues in literary and cultural theory.  I am primarily interested in the medieval period, which is generally understood to span the periods between the Eastern Han and the end of the Tang, or from 100 CE to 900 CE, though I dabble with earlier and later periods on occasion.  I am also interested in computational methods for literary analysis, the history of information management in traditional China, gossip, and cats.  My current projects include the design of a macroscopic computing environment for East Asian script textual corpora, a history of Chinese literature as information management, a study of an early medieval anecdotal collection, and the problem of poems composed by ghosts (all of these are closely related, really). I taught previously at UCLA and Wellesley College.  I received my BA in Literature from Yale, my MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan, and my PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard.



  • The Poetics of Sovereignty: On Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010.
  • Idle Talk: Gossip and Anecdote in Traditional China. Co-edited with David Schaberg. Berkeley: Global, Area, and International Archive and the University of California Press, 2013.


  • “Early Medieval Poetry.” Co-authored with Evan Nicoll-Johnson. In Oxford Bibliographies in Chinese Studies, ed. Tim Wright (New York: Oxford University Press, January 30, 2014).
  • “The Shishuo xinyu as Data Visualization.” Co-authored with Zoe Borovsky, Yoh Kawano, and Ryan Chen. Early Medieval China 20 (2014): 22–58.
  • “Blank Spaces and Secret Histories: Questions of Historiographic Epistemology in Medieval China.” Journal of Asian Studies 69.4 (Nov., 2010): 1071–91.
  • “北美漢學研究現況 (Thoughts on the State of Chinese Literary Studies in North America).” Trans. Chen Jingru 陳靖如. Hanxue yanjiu tongxun 漢學研究通訊  28.1 (May 2009): 33–37.
  • “On the Act and Representation of Reading in Medieval China.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 129.1 (Jan.–Mar. 2009): 57–71.
Admin Position