Sabina Knight 桑稟華
Professor of Chinese and of Comparative Literature
Contact & Office Hours
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 early if “uneven” 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. Her earlier book, The Heart of Time (2006), offers a history of modern Chinese fiction to explore how narrative structures, representations of time, and discourses of determinism and moral responsibility changed over the 20th century.
Knight is pursuing cross-cultural studies in the medical humanities through her teaching, writing and participation in the Five College Culture, Health, and Science (CHS) Program. Working in Chinese, Russian, French and English, she has spoken or published on breast cancer, emotions, disability, aging and well-being. This work builds on 10 years’ participation in a faculty seminar sponsored by Harvard’s departments of medical anthropology and social medicine. Knight continues as a research associate at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.
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 the United States and China. Her hope that literary culture may be relevant to contemporary questions of law, public policy and healthcare has grown since she served as 2011–13 fellow in the Public Intellectuals Program (PIP) of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR).
In 2007, Knight was awarded Smith’s Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching.
Selected Publications and Media
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 for 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 Eyes.” Chinese 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.
“Scar Literature and the Memory of Trauma.” The Columbia Companion to Modern Chinese Literature. Ed. Kirk Denton. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. 293-306.
“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). Ed. 中国作家协会外联部 (Chinese Writers Association International Liaison Department). Beijing: Chinese Writers’ Press, 2015, 191-196.