I joined the Department of Asian Studies in 2012, but spent the 2012–13 academic year on leave at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the National Humanities Center in North Carolina and will be teaching in the Department for the first time in 2013–14.
My main areas of research and teaching are the cultural history of China, especially the Ming (1368–1644) through early Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. I have worked on the history of textual studies, literary culture, writing systems, and connoisseurship. My first monograph, Critics and Commentators: The Book of Poems as Classic and Literature, was published by the Harvard University Asia Center in 2012. It studies the interactions between literary criticism and classical studies in imperial China, showing how the two fields borrowed from each other while remaining distinct in status and approach.
My current research project, part of a larger interest in how ideas of authenticity and deception were negotiated in late imperial China, concerns practices of authentication surrounding material culture. I am preparing a study of one especially problematic category of artifact, so-called “Xuande incense burners,” bronze vessels supposedly cast in palace workshops in early fifteenth century but in fact invented over a hundred years later and “provenanced” by texts forged in the eighteenth century. I am also investigating Ming and Qing techniques for assaying (and faking) silver ingots, the most important form of money during that period.
In the past year, as webmaster for the Society for Ming Studies (a scholarly organization devoted to the study of Ming history and culture), I moved its website to UBC, and am currently president-elect of the Society. I hope this will be an opportunity to highlight for the rest of the world UBC’s unique strengths in this field.
Prior to joining the Department, I taught for six years in the Department Asian Studies at Cornell University, and before that was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. In 2004 I received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, writing a dissertation entitled “The Rogue Classicist: Feng Fang (1493–1566) and his Forgeries,” on a set of classical texts forged in the sixteenth century.
My B.A. (History Honours) is from UBC, so I am excited to be returning to Vancouver and to be joining the vibrant community of scholars here.