Xiaorong Li

Associate Professor
Area: Late Imperial (Ming-Qing) Chinese Literature

Ph.D., McGill University

Office: HSSB 2227
Office Hours: S14: T, 5:00-6:00PM; TH, 2:30-3:15PM

Email Address

Xiaorong Li’s areas of research are concerned with gender and literary production, women’s writings, literati culture, and literary trends in the late imperial period (ca. 1500–1900).  She also conducts research on women poets in classical Chinese poetry in Japan and Korea from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Although her primary focus is on gender issues, she is at pains to situate the study of women within the broader historical and cultural context of the particular era.

Her book, Women’s Poetry of Late Imperial China: Transforming the Inner Chambers, uses the physical, social and symbolic location of women in the gendered division of space— the inner chambers [gui or guige] — as a theoretical focus of an examination of Ming-Qing women’s approach to the writing of poetry. The gui serves as a framework for exploring the many ways in which women poets mediated the literary traditions inherited from male writers and confronted the ideological and socio-historical conditions of their time.

In her second book project, she moves on to explore one of the most remarkable achievements in poetic culture during the late imperial period, the production of an unprecedented number and variety of anthologies.  She aims to show that the making of poetry anthologies is a productive area to examine the marriage of politics and literary production.

Li was trained in Chinese linguistics first at Peking University and subsequently studied late imperial Chinese literature at McGill University. She taught at Swarthmore College and Beijing Language University (formerly known as Beijing Language Institute) before coming to UCSB.


Women's Poetry of Late Imperial China

Selected Articles, Reviews & Entries


  • “‘Singing in Dis/Harmony’ in Times of Chaos: Xu Can’s Poetic Exchange with Her Husband Chen Zhilin during the Ming-Qing Transition.” Research on Women in Modern Chinese History 19 (2011): 215-54.
  • “Woman Writing about Women: Li Shuyi’s (1817-?) Project on One Hundred Beauties in Chinese History.” Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in China 13.1 (2011): 52-110.
  • “Gender and Textual Politics during the Qing Dynasty: The Case of the Zhengshi ji.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 69.1 (June 2009): pp. 75-107 .
  • “Engendering Heroism: Ming-Qing Women’s Song Lyrics to the Tune Man jiang hong,” in Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in China 7.1 (2005): pp. 1–39 .

Courses Taught

  • CHIN 127. Fourth Year Chinese
  • CHIN 143. Urban Legends: Masterworks of Ming-Qing Fiction
  • CHIN 144. Women Writers of Late Imperial China
  • CHIN 146 & 246. Poetic Culture of Late Imperial China and Beyond
  • CHIN 211. Bibliography and Research Methodology
  • EACS 4A. Pre-Modern East Asian Traditions