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Dr Susan Daruvala

Dr Susan Daruvala

Emeritus Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese Literature

Office Phone: 01223 337569


In 1968, I decided to study Chinese at Leeds University for my undergraduate degree because Leeds had an area studies programme designed to provide training in Chinese and a discipline, taken as a minor subject. I was interested in the divergent political and economic paths taken by China and India, and wanted to understand as much as possible about China. I took sociology as my minor.  In 1974 I graduated with an MPhil in Politics with special reference to China from SOAS. I then applied at the Chinese Embassy for a two-year job teaching English—one of the few ways of getting to China at the time—and was sent to Shanghai in August 1975. The next two years were demanding and engrossing, as they were divided in 1976 by Mao’s death and the arrest of radical leaders with their political base in Shanghai, bringing to an end the Cultural Revolution. I lived and worked in Hong Kong between 1977 and 1982, followed by 18 months in India. In 1985 I began graduate studies at the University of Chicago, specializing in literature, as it now seemed to me that literature offered richer insights into issues such as authority, tradition and so on, than political science. I spent 1991-93 in Taiwan, and then moved back to the UK. After a short stint teaching at the University of Westminster, I came to Cambridge in 1995. 

Educational Details


BA in Chinese Studies, University of Leeds

1974 M.Sc in Politics with special reference to China, SOAS
1986 MA in Chinese Literature, University of Chicago
1993 PhD University of Chicago

Subject groups/Research projects

Chinese Studies:

Research Interests

20th century Chinese literature; the modern Chinese essay; Chinese literary aesthetics; Zhou Zuoren; modernity, nation and identity;  intellectual discourses in modern China; the literary field in Republican China; Republican journal publishing; Chinese film

Key Publications


Zhou Zuoren and an Alternative Chinese Response to Modernity. Harvard East Asian Monographs: 189. Harvard University Press, 2000.  361pp. 周作人:中国现代性的另类选择 康凌译 上海:复旦大学出版社 2013; 周作人:自己的园地, 陈思齐、凌曼萍 译, 台北:麦田出版, 2011。


“Self as performance, lust as betrayal in the theatre of war,” in Lust/Caution: From Eileen Chang to Lee Ang ed. Hsiao-yan Peng and Whitney Crowthers Dilley. London and NY, Routledge (2014)

  "Republican writers and the disputed legacy of Wang Siren (1575-1646)" in Hsiung Peng-chen, Lee Cheuk-Yin ed. Evolving Cultural Memory in China and South East Asia, Hong Kong Educational Press 2009.

 “Yuefeng:A literati journal of the 1930s,” in Kirk A. Denton and Michel Hockx ed. Literary Societies of Republican China, Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, pp. 339-378.

"The aesthetics and moral politics of Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town", Journal of Chinese Cinemas Vol. 1, No 3 pp. 169-185. October 2007.

"Yuefeng: A Literati Journal of the 1930s", Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Fall 2006, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 39-97.