About

John M. Schiff Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures & Comparative Literature

Jing Tsu is a cultural historian and literary scholar of modern China, and has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and Financial Times.  The first tenured professor appointed in East Asian Languages and Literature and Comparative Literature, her research spans literature, linguistics, science and technology, internationalization, regionalism and globalization, and US-China relations.  She is a member and former Chair (2014-2021) of the Council on East Asian Studies, Senior Research Fellow at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, and Affiliate Faculty at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs as well as Yale Law School.

Tsu is author of five books (two co-edited).  Her new book, Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern (Riverhead, Penguin Random House), released in January 2022, has been reviewed widely in the U.S. and U.K: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The New Yorker, The Economist, Wired, Science, Nature, Physics World,  The TimesThe Spectator, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, among others. The book tells the dramatic story of how China and its language entered the information age dominated by the western alphabet.

Her first book, Failure, Nationalism, and Literature: The Making of Modern Chinese Identity, 1895-1937 (Stanford University Press 2005), was noted by critics as “bold,” “original,” “a provocative and innovative book that opens up new critical spaces,” and “a seriously good read.” Her second book, Sound and Script in Chinese Diaspora (Harvard University Press 2010), has been called “a truly groundbreaking work in Sinophone studies,” “an unusual, complex, and remarkable book,” “a captivating work of linguistic and literary scholarship,” and a “must-read.”

Tsu is widely recognized for her original approach, interdisciplinary synthesis and perspective on China. She has held numerous fellowships and honors: The Society of Fellows (Harvard), Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard), New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

At Yale, she has served on of the Executive Committee of the Whitney Humanities Center, the Executive Committee of the Humanities Program, the Executive Committee of Film & Media Studies Program, as well as the Provost's Advisory Committee on International Activities, the Humanities Planning Committee, Humanities Tenures & Appointments Committee, and the Provost's Standing Advisory Appointments Committee for the Arts Schools.

 
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