Our research

Language variation

Since our inception, Chinese language has been core to our research with language taught together with the social sciences and other disciplines. Over the years, under successive enthusiastic and experienced leadership our vibrant, multi-disciplinary research community has grown considerably but language-based, contextually-informed research has always remained at the core of what we do. 

A key characteristic of our research is its strong multi-disciplinary focus. As a closely linked, energetic research community we work alongside other colleagues in East Asian studies, and more widely within the School and wider research community. Within Chinese studies we seek to actively support one another's work and aim to offer an environment of real collaboration. To help foster this and to continue to build on our reputation for delivering high quality research at a national and international level, Chinese Studies focuses its research efforts in the following key areas: 

•    Language, Literature and Translation

•    International Relations and Development

•    Cultures and Societies in China (including Tibetan and other non-Han Chinese)

Our particular research strengths lie in contemporary and classical Chinese fiction; science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural; authorial identity; literary translation and publication; authorial prefaces and paratexts; Chinese cinema; religion and religious philanthropy; the non-profit sector; citizenship education; bees and beekeeping in Chinese culture before 1900; letter writing and collections in China, especially late Ming and early Qing; social networks; Chinese and Tibetan oral traditions, Chinese ethnic minority experience in contemporary China; folkloristics, language and society; popular culture; dissent. 

Impact and engagement

Engaging directly with people who will benefit from our research and findings is important to our team. In addition to demonstrating academic advances which are of direct benefit to others within the academic community, ensuring that we engage with (and bring benefits to) the world outside of academia is crucial to what we do.

Our ‘impact' takes on a variety of forms including working alongside policy-makers and think tanks; participating in literary festivals and book fairs; running workshops for school children and teachers; staging performances, exhibitions, podcasts, public lectures and seminars; helping NGOs and grassroots communities work more sustainably; providing online forums to disseminate findings and to facilitate links between different individuals and groups; supporting the development of community networks; running workshops for publishers and translators etc. These activities not only help us to embed our work more widely into public life but also enrich our work further by enabling us to recognise and respond to the wider public’s views. 


Research projects

“Writing Chinese: authors, authorship and authority”, AHRC funded via WREAC (2014) 

“Reading Chinese: Engaging New Audiences”, AHRC Follow-on-Funding 2017-2018 

“Space to Speak: Non-Han Fiction and Film”, funding from MEITS (Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies) AHRC 2018 

“The Transcultural Fantastic”, Sadler Seminar Series (2018/2019)

“Social Innovation and Elderly Care”, WUN Research Development Fund (2018)

Previous funding still central to research interests: 

‘Cao Yu: Pioneer of Modern Chinese Drama’ (2011)

‘Performing China on the Global Stage’ (evolving into the second phase ‘Staging China’) (2013)

‘400 year legacy of William Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu’ (2014-2016)

“Inequality and poverty: Issues and policy development in UK and China” British Academy's Visiting Fellowship scheme (2018)

“Rural-urban migration and inclusionary urbanisation in China” Newton Fund (NSFC Project) (2016) 
“Why Chinese Writers Write: Authorial Prefaces and their Implications” Leverhulme (2002-4)

White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC) - WREAC was a partnership between the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield to promote postgraduate training, research collaboration and knowledge exchange in the study of China, Japan and neighbouring regions.

Established in 2006 with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, WREAC brought together staff and students from East Asian Studies (EAS) at the University of Leeds and the School of East Asian Studies (SEAS) at the University of Sheffield. Although no longer funded the collaborative working and cooperation continues between our centres. 

Academic team