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Alexander, Katherine L. Assistant Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • 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.


selected publications


courses taught

  • CHIN 1012 - Introduction to Chinese Civilization
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020
    An interdisciplinary introduction from ancient to modern times. Arts, literature, politics, social relations, religion, and material culture are studied in terms of significant themes and ideas pertaining to the civilization of China. Taught in English.
  • CHIN 1051 - Masterpieces of Chinese Literature in Translation
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2021
    Surveys Chinese thought and culture through close reading and discussion of selected masterworks of Chinese literature in translation. Texts include significant works of poetry, fiction, and drama, as well as philosophical and historical writings from various eras. Taught in English.
  • CHIN 3331 - Culture and Literature of Late Imperial China
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2021
    The late imperial period was marked by growth of great metropolitan areas, expanded urban entertainments, and an extensive popular culture. Focuses on the literature and artifacts of this urban culture as well as the hegemonic culture of the state and of traditional social codes and their literary manifestations. Also considers growing contacts with the West and the transition to the modern period. All readings are in English. Taught in English. Recommended prerequisite: CHIN 1012 or CHIN 1051.
  • CHIN 3361 - Women and the Supernatural in Chinese Literature
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Fall 2019
    Explores the relationship between the worlds of women and the supernatural in Chinese literature, from ancient to modern times. Focuses on selected significant works of classical and vernacular fiction, religious texts, and poetry. Taught in English.
  • CHIN 4950 - Honors Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Spring 2021
  • CHIN 5070 - Graduate Academic Writing
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2020 / Spring 2021
    Considers the act of academic writing both in terms of mechanics and in terms of habits of effective writers themselves, so that students, building upon a base knowledge of the expectations of the academy, develop approaches to help themselves gain the confidence to excel at the writing required of them in graduate school and beyond.
  • CHIN 5130 - History of Chinese Literature from the Tenth to the Nineteenth Century
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020
    Survey of Chinese literature from the tenth to the nineteenth century, with readings in primary and secondary sources. Focuses on the major literary works, genres, figures, and movements of the Song through the Qing dynasties.
  • CHIN 5630 - Early Modern Fiction
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020
    Explores selected vernacular and classical fiction of the Ming and Qing periods. Normally focuses on long novels such as Xiyou ji, Sanguo yanyi, Shuihu zhuan, Jin Ping Mei, as well as short stories by Feng Menglong and Ling Mengchu. Texts and selections vary from year to year. May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours. Knowledge of Classical Chinese at the level of CHIN 4220 is required.
  • CHIN 5680 - Topics in Early Modern Literature
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019 / Spring 2021
    Examines a specific problem or issue in early modern literature (e.g., the relationships among religion, folklore, and early fiction; the issue of genre and traditional fiction); the role of elite versus popular cultures in the composition of fiction; or the relationship of the state and censorship and the southern philosophical schools to the publication of fiction. Topics vary from year to year. May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours. Knowledge of Classical Chinese at the level of CHIN 4220 is required.


International Activities

global connections related to teaching and scholarly work (in recent years)

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