Sabina Knight 桑稟華

Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature, Program in World Literatures

Sabina Knight

Contact & Office Hours

Spring 2022

Monday 4-5, Wednesday 2:45-3:45, and by appt.

Pierce Hall 202



Ph.D., M.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison

M.A., University of California, Berkeley

B.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison


Sabina Knight (桑稟華) seeks to bring Chinese literatures to broader audiences. Her Chinese Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2012) tells the story of literary culture’s key role in the development and resilience of Chinese social and political institutions. From ancient historical records through the region’s modernization and globalization, the book embraces traditional Chinese understandings of literature as encompassing history and philosophy as well as poetry and poetics, storytelling, drama and the novel. In The Heart of Time (2006), she explores how narrative structures, and representations of time, determinism and moral responsibility changed over the 20th century.

Knight also studies the cross-cultural medical humanities. Working in Chinese, Russian, French and English, she has addressed breast cancer, disability, aging and the revolution in China’s mental healthcare. This work builds on a decade’s participation in a faculty seminar in Harvard’s Department of Social Medicine. Knight continues as a Research Associate at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. She also serves on the steering committee of the Five College Culture, Health and Sciences (CHS) Program.

Knight has translated stories, essays, classical poetry and modern prose. She has published essays in Chinese on Chinese-English literary translation, and she has spoken widely on the topic in China, Europe and the United States. Across her work, Knight aspires to demonstrate the relevance of literary culture to contemporary questions of law, public policy and healthcare. This hope has grown since 2011 when the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR) appointed her as a fellow in their Public Intellectuals Program (PIP).

In 2007, Knight was awarded Smith’s Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching.

You can find her on Twitter @SabinaKnight1​ and bilingually 中英雙語 @SangBina.

Selected Publications and Media

China’s Minority Fiction,” World Literature Today (2022).

Daoism, Confucianism and Anti-War Poetry,” podcast (2022).

Dancing in the Park,” webinar, The China Institute (2022).

Scar Literature,” Modern Chinese Literature Video Lecture Series, edited by Kirk Denton and Christopher Rosenmeier, MCLC Resource Center, January 2021.

Chinese Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012).
—German: Die chinesische Literatur: Eine Einführung, translated by Martina Hasse (Reclam, 2016).
—Bilingual Simplified Chinese-English (heavily censored):《中国文学》Chinese Literature, translated by Li Yongyi 李永毅. (Nanjing: Yilin Press 译林出版社, 2016).
—Traditional Chinese: 《中國文學》 Chinese Literature: A Very Short Introduction, translated by Li Yongyi 李永毅. (Hong Kong: Oxford UP [China] Limited, 2018).
—Italian: Letteratura cinese, translated by Federica Casalin (Hoepli, 2021).

The Heart of Time: Moral Agency in Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction (Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard University Press, 2006).

Interview with Tom Ashbrook on NPR’s “On Point.”

Interview with Jeffrey Wasserstrom in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Mo Yan’s Delicate Balancing Act.The National Interest 124 (March/April 2013): 69-80.

Writing Chinese Literary History: A Tweet for Sore EyesChinese Literature Today 3.1&2 (2013): 165-175. 

Cancer’s Revelations: Malignancies and Therapies in a Recent Chinese Novel,” Literature and Medicine 28.2 (2009): 351-70.

解读中美文化交流中的差异” (Decoding Disparities in China-U.S. Cultural Exchanges).
《翻译家的对话 III 》 (Translators’ Dialogue III), 2015, 191-196.

如何推广中国文学的全球读者群?” [Expanding Chinese Literature’s Global Readership]. 《翻译家的对话 II》 (Translators’ Dialogue II), 2012, pp. 104-109.

美国人眼中的中国小说: 论英译中文小说” [What Americans See: Chinese Fiction in English Translation] 《翻译家的对话》 (Translators’ Dialogue), 2011, pp. 121-124.