- In her research, Katherine Alexander explores the least-preserved aspects of early modern China’s literature and culture, popular literature, in order to better understand the lives of people most often overlooked by official histories. In her current research she explores a genre of performance literature called baojuan (precious scrolls), analyzing it in terms of the people composing, publishing and reading them in the context of China’s turbulent 19th century. She explores morality tales told in these texts for the social tensions they addressed, particularly in speaking to intended audiences of minimally literate or illiterate non-elites. Dr. Alexander’s work shows how Chinese at the time used baojuan as one way of restoring social and religious stability after the Taiping War divided the empire. This gives her the opportunity to explore complex, compelling issues of interactions between elite and popular cultures and between vernacular literature and religious traditions.