I am the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford University, and Professor of Comparative Literature and, by courtesy, English.
My fields of interest include social and cultural criticism, literary theory and criticism, and critical human rights. I have published in each of these areas, including six books and numerous articles that have been translated into Chinese, German, French and Portuguese. My most recent book (The Deliverance of Others: Reading Literature in a Global Age, Duke UP) addresses the role of contemporary humanistic literature with regard to the instruments and discourses of globalization, seeking to discover modes of affiliation and transnational ethical thinking. I am most interested in issues regarding social theory, community, justice, globalization, and the specific role that literature and the humanities play in helping us address each of these areas. I am the founding editor of the e-journal Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities. I also founded and direct the Teaching Human Rights Collaboratory, an international website for human rights teachers, activists, and students.
I trained in East Asian area studies and classical Chinese literature, and comparative literature. My books can be viewed on my Books page. I have also published numerous book chapters and articles in journals such as Poetics Today; diacritics; differences: a journal of feminist cultural studies; New Literary History; New Centennial Review; Cultural Critique; Public Culture, boundary 2,and others. Some of these are available on the Articles page.
I received both my undergraduate and graduate training at the University of California, Berkeley, obtaining undergraduate degrees in Comparative Literature (English and French) and what was then called “Oriental Languages” (major field, Chinese). My graduate work focused on Chinese literature and on literary criticism and theory. I received my PhD in Comparative Literature from Berkeley in 1988. I spent one year in Taiwan studying Chinese language, and one year in Kyoto as a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council. There I researched Japanese scholarship on classical Chinese literature at Kyoto University and at the Research Institute for Humanistic Studies, and was appointed as a fellow at both institutions.
While pursuing a PhD in comparative literature at Berkeley, I began working in Asian American studies as well, teaching courses on Asian American history and literature. Upon completion of the PhD, I accepted a joint appointment as assistant professor in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Department of English, where I taught courses on Chinese literature and American ethnic literature, literary criticism and theory, and comparative literature.
In 1990, I joined the Department of Comparative Literature at Stanford. Part of my duties was to help establish Asian American Studies. I was a founding faculty member of Stanford’s Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CSRE), which was established in 1997. From 1999 to 2005 I served as director of the Program in Modern Thought and Literature. During that period I helped initiate and organize major conferences on Rational Choice Theory and the Humanities and World-Systems Analysis, among other events. Speakers included Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jon Elster, Kenneth Arrow, Regenia Gagnier, John Dupre, Bruce Robbins, Linda Hutcheon, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Anna Tsing, Michael Watts, Michael Hardt, and many others.
In 1994 I declined a visiting appointment at Harvard in order to accept a year’s fellowship leave at the Stanford Humanities Center. In 1998 I spent the fall term teaching courses on immigration, decolonization, and exoticism at the Stanford Program in Paris. In autumn 2011 I taught at the Oxford campus and gave a series of talks at Wadham and Brasenose colleges, and at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford.
In 2007 I was offered the Jackman Chair in Humanities and the Arts at the University of Toronto.
My work appears in Salon, Truthout, The Nation, The Guardian, AlterNet, Al Jazeera, and other magazines. All my blogs are on my website. I am also working on a book tentatively entitled “Dispossession and Reclamation,” which will discuss environmental, political, and economic justice.