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Faculty – Haiyan Lee

Associate Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature


  • Ph.D., East Asian Literature, Cornell University
  • M.A., East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
  • B.A., Philosophy and Religious Studies, Beijing University

Research Areas

  • Modern Chinese literature and culture
  • Critical theory and comparative literature
  • Moral, political and legal philosophy
  • Socio-cultural anthropology and psychology
  • Cultural studies of affect, gender, sexuality, class, race, and human-animal relations

Before coming to Stanford in 2009, Haiyan Lee taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Hong Kong, and held post-doctoral fellowships at Cornell University and Harvard University. Her first book, Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950, is a critical genealogy of the idea of “love” (qing) in modern Chinese literary and cultural history. It is the first recipient of the Joseph Levenson Prize in the field of modern Chinese literature. Her second book, The Stranger and the Chinese Moral Imagination, examines how the figure of “the stranger”—foreigner, migrant, class enemy, woman, animal, ghost—in Chinese fiction, film, television, and exhibition culture tests the moral limits of a society known for the primacy of consanguinity and familiarity. Her new project centers on Chinese visions of “justice” at the intersection of narrative, law, and ethics. For more about her work, see “Social Science Research Council (SSRC): New Voices” and “Stanford Report: The Human Experience Feature Story

Selected Publications


  • Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950 Stanford University Press, 2007 (Winner of the Association for Asian Studies 2009 Joseph Levenson Book Prize for the best English-language academic book on post-1900 China)

Special Journal Issue:

  • 2008 – Guest editor, “Taking It to Heart: Emotion, Modernity, Asia,” a special issue of positions: asia critique, vol. 16, no. 2

Journal Articles:

  • 2012 – “Woman, Sacrifice, and the Limits of Sympathy.” Frontiers of Literary Studies in China
  • 2011 – "The Charisma of Power and the Military Sublime in Tiananmen Square.” Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 70, no. 2 (May), 397–424 (PDF)
  • 2010 – “Enemy under My Skin: Eileen Chang’s ‘Lust, Caution’ and the Politics of Transcendence.” PMLA vol. 125, no. 3 (May), 640-656
  • 2010 – “From the Iron Rice Bowl to the Beggar’s Bowl: What Good Is (Chinese) Literature?” Telos, no. 151 (summer), 129-150
  • 2009 – “The Ruins of Yuanmingyuan; Or, How to Enjoy a National Wound.” Modern China, vol. 35, no. 2 (March), 155-190
  • 2007 – “’A Dime Store of Words’: The Liberty Magazine and the Cultural Logic of the Popular Press.” Twentieth-Century China, vol. 33, no. 1 (November), 53-80
  • 2007 – “The Other Chinese: Romancing the Folk in May Fourth Native Soil Fiction.” Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, vol. 33, no. 2 (September), 9-34
  • 2006 – “Nannies for Foreigners: The Enchantment of Chinese Womanhood in the Age of Millennial Capitalism.” Public Culture, vol. 18, no. 3 (Fall), 507-529
  • 2006 – “From Abroad, with Love: Transnational Texts, Local Critiques.” Tamkang Review vol. 36, no. 4 (Summer), 189-225
  • 2006 – “Governmentality and the Aesthetic State: A Chinese Fantasia.” positions: east asia cultures critique, vol. 14, no.1 (spring), 99-130
  • 2005 – “Tears That Crumbled the Great Wall: The Archaeology of Feeling in the May Fourth Folklore Movement.” Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 64, no. 1, (February), 35-65 (JAS feature article)
  • 2004 – “Sympathy, Hypocrisy, and the Trauma of Chineseness.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 16, no. 2 (Fall), 76-122
  • 2001 – “All the Feelings That Are Fit to Print: The Community of Sentiment and the Literary Public Sphere in China, 1900-1918.” Modern China, vol. 27, no. 3 (July), 291-327
  • 1997 – “Love or Lust? The Sentimental Self in Honglou meng (Dream of the Red Chamber).” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews, vol. 19, 85-111

Book Chapters:

  • 2010 – “’Nowhere in the World does There Exist Love or Hatred without Reason’.” In Words and Their Stories: The Language of the Chinese Revolution, ed. Ban Wang (Leiden: Brill), 149-170
  • 2009 – “It’s Right to Party, en Masse” & “Kung Fu Panda, Go Home!” In China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance, ed. Kate Merkel-Hess, Kenneth Pomeranz, and Jeffrey Wasserstrom (Rowman and Littlefield), 173-177, 241-245
  • 2008 – “Woman, Demon, Human: The Spectral Journey Home.” In Chinese Films in Focus II, ed. Chris Berry. 2nd edition (BFI Publishing), 243-249
  • 2008 – “Meng Jiang Nü and the May Fourth Folklore Movement.” In Meng Jiangnu Brings down the Great Wall: Ten Versions of a Chinese Legend, translated with an introduction by Wilt L. Idema (University of Washington Press), 24-41
  • 2006 – “The Book and the Sword: China and the U.S. in the Global Classroom.” In Meiguo daxue ketang li de Zhongguo: lümei xuezhe zishu (Teaching China in the American Classroom: Personal Reflections of Chinese Scholars in the U.S.), ed. Wang Ban & Zhong Xueping (Nanjing, China: Nanjing University Press), 19-28

Online Essays:


  • Marvelous Creatures: Animals and Humans in Chinese Literature
  • Traditional East Asian Cultures: China
  • Tiananmen Square: History, Literature, Iconography
  • Chinese Justice: Law, Morality, and Literature
  • Sex, Gender, and Power in Modern China
  • The Poetics and Politics of Affect
  • For Love of Country: National Narratives in Modern China
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