Ph.D., Stanford University
Specialization: Modern Chinese Literature, Film/Media Studies, Comparative Literature, Literary Theory, Political Philosophy
Office: HSSB 2223
Office Hours: By appointment only
Hangping Xu specializes in modern and contemporary Chinese literary, cultural, and visual studies, comparative literature, and Taiwan Studies. Situating China in the world and destabilizing the notion of “Chineseness,” his research also pays attention to the history of diaspora, dispersion, immigration, and globalization. His interdisciplinary research engages two significant turns in literary and cultural studies—namely, the affective and the ethical —by foregrounding disability as a mode of critique. It particularly examines “disability aesthetics,” that is, how the disabled body in our cultural imaginaries evokes affective responses, or what can be called “aesthetic nervousness.” It explores the ways in which disability opens up new ethical horizons because its excessively corporeal and often spectacularized embodiment conceptually and aesthetically challenges how a culture defines what it means to be human. His research uses disability as a critical framework to challenge the autonomous liberal subject and posit an ethic of care that recognizes human finitude, vulnerability, and mutual dependence. Further, it concerns the intersection of disability and media theory. The concept of prosthesis, for example, can be used to explain media’s function as “any extension of ourselves” (Marshall Mcluhan).
He is currently completing his first book project entitled Broken Bodies as Agents: Disability Aesthetics and Politics in Modern Chinese Culture and Literature. Probing the narrative and symbolic centrality of disability in the Chinese political-moral imagination of the long twentieth century, it develops a critical genealogy of “Chinese crip figures” in transnational contexts: the madman in national allegory, the “castrated” male subject in feminist narratives, the “super-crip” figure from Taiwan, the autistic child in post-Mao cinema, and the disabled poet in the age of Internet literature. Theorizing disability as not just embodiment but essentially social construct, the project argues that since its inception the modern Chinese nation-state has been shaped by medical and eugenic discourses and premised upon a fantasy for a healthy, able body politic. For his work on global disability studies, he received the Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies (Honorable Mention) in 2020.
With a keen interest in theories of comparative and world literature, he has started his second book project tentatively titled The Event of Chinese Literature: On the Politics of World literature. It situates contemporary Chinese literature in the global system of recognition by examining several prize-winning authors such as Mo Yan, Liu Cixin, Hao Jingfang, Gao Xingjian, Yang Lian, and Yu Xiuhua. With Yunte Huang, he is co-editing a special issue titled “Chinese Poetry in/and the World,” which will come out from Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature. This project reflects his broader interests in translation studies, world literature, and comparative literary theories. As an affiliated faculty member in the Comparative Literature program, he teaches a regular graduate seminar (i.e., CHIN 263: World Literature and Modern China), which uses the case of Chinese literature to reexamine the histories and theories of world literature.
His publications have appeared or are forthcoming in such venues as Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC), Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature, Chinese Poets Since 1949 in Dictionary of Literary Biography, and A Global History of Literature and the Environment (Cambridge University Press). For Chinese Literature Today, he co-edited (with Elise Huerta) a special issue on disability, gender, and internet literature. He received his Ph.D. in Chinese Literature from Stanford University, where he also obtained a Ph.D. Minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. He received the Centennial Teaching Award from Stanford in 2015. Prior to UCSB, he taught at Middlebury College. His public-facing work has appeared in the University of California Television and BBC.
CHIN/CLIT 82: Modern Chinese Literature and Film (in translation); CHIN 176: Chinese Cinema: Nationalism and Globalism; INT 36KX: Disability Aesthetics and Politics in Chinese Literature and Western Music; CHIN 180QC/CHIN 292QC: Queer China, Crip China; CHIN 263: World Literature and Modern China
If you wonder about what Professor Xu’s classroom looks like, watch a video made by Christian Aceves about his learning experience in Professor Xu’s film class (CHIN 176).