Ron Egan

Emeritus Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University
Chinese Literature and Aesthetics


Ronald Egan works on traditional Chinese poetry, aesthetics, and literati culture of the Tang and Song periods. His publications include studies of major writers of the period as well as topical studies on literature, literary criticism and the relation between poetry and the other arts (painting, calligraphy and music). He is also the translator of selected essays of Qian Zhongshu, one of twentieth-century China’s foremost literary scholars.

His current project is a critical study of the life and works of Li Qingzhao, China’s most celebrated woman poet. This project challenges conventional images of Li Qingzhao by examining how her gender has affected the way she is read and represented. Attention is also given to the dramatic swings in critics’ opinions of Li Qingzhao through the centuries. His most recent book, The Problem of Beauty, concerns the problem of justifying interest in beauty and aesthetic pursuits in Song dynasty China in such diverse fields as poetics, horticulture, the collection of art objects and antiquities, and entertainment songs. Before coming to UCSB, he taught at Harvard University and Wellesley College. He has received grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


[wpic height=”250px” display=”3″]Picture of Egan's book: /!Picture of Egan's book: Word, Image and Deed in the Life of Su Shi/!Picture of Egan's book: Limited Views: Essays on Letters and Ideas by Qian Zhongshu./![/wpic]

  • The Problem of Beauty: Aesthetic Thought and Pursuits in Northern Song Dynasty China. Harvard University Press, 2006.
  • Word, Image and Deed in the Life of Su Shi. Harvard-Yenching Monograph Series. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Book Length Translations

  • Limited Views: Essays on Letters and Ideas by Qian Zhongshu. Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.

Selected Articles:

  • “Northern Song Dynasty Literature.” The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature, ed. Kang-i Sun Chang and Stephen Owen. Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
  • “On the Circulation of Books During the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, and Reviews, vol. 30 (2008): 9-17.
  • “Dui gu ‘ji’ de zai sikao: Ouyang Xiu lun shike” 对古‘迹’的再思考:欧阳修论石刻 (Rethinking “Traces” from the Past: Ouyang Xiu on Stone Inscriptions). Ouyang Xiu yu Songdai shidafu, in Sixiangshi yanjiu, no. 4. Center for the Study of Intellectual History, Fudan University. Shanghai: Shanghai Renmen chubanshe, 2007. Pp. 48-87.
  • “Poet, Mind and World : A Reconstuction of the ‘Shensi’ Chapter if Wenxin dialong.” InContemporary Perspectives on Wenxin diaolong, ed. Zhongji Cai. Stanford University Press, 2001.
  • “The Controversy over Music and ‘Sadness’ and Changing Conceptions of the Qin in Middle Period China.”Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 57, 1997.

Courses Taught:

  • Introduction to Classical Chinese (Chinese 101 A-C)
  • Tang Poetry (Chinese 142)
  • Mythology and Supernatural in Chinese Literature (Chinese 145)
  • Historic Lives (Chinese 148)
  • The Problem of Love (Chinese 154)
  • Survey of Asian Literature (Comparative Literature 33)