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Sabina Knight 桑稟華

Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature, Program in World Literatures

Sabina Knight


Pierce Hall 202


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 resilience of Chinese social and political institutions. From ancient historical records through the region’s modernization, the book embraces traditional Chinese understandings of literature as encompassing history and philosophy as well as poetry, drama and fiction. In The Heart of Time (2006), she explores how narratives of time and moral responsibility changed over the 20th century. She has translated stories, essays, and Classical Chinese poetry, and has published essays in Chinese on literary translation. She has also spoken widely on the topic in China, Europe, America, and online.

Working in Chinese, Russian, French and English, Knight is currently exploring media of dissent as well as the medical humanities. Across her work, she seeks to demonstrate the relevance of literary culture to contemporary questions of law, public policy and healthcare. This aspiration 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). Since 1999 Knight has also been a Research Associate at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.

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

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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


Office Hours

Spring 2023

Wednesday/Thursday 4:10–5:10 p.m., and by appointment.


Ph.D., M.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison
M.A., University of California, Berkeley
B.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks