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Dr Heather Inwood

Chinese contemporary genre fiction and poetry; popular, fan and folk cultures; internet culture and society; media studies; sociology of literature and culture
Dr Heather Inwood

University Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature and Culture

Fellow of Trinity Hall

Office Phone: 01223 335149


My path to Chinese Studies began in the sixth form, when friends at the music school I attended in Somerset gave me my first taste of the joys of speaking a few phrases of (mostly very rude) Cantonese and communicating in a language wonderfully unlike the European languages I had studied up until then. I went on to graduate with a BA in Chinese Studies from the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall), then spent two years in China studying first at the Inter-University Program at Tsinghua University and then towards an MA in contemporary Chinese literature at Peking University. In 2008 I received my PhD in modern Chinese literature from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the University of London, writing my dissertation on literary and sociological developments in the mainland Chinese avant-garde poetry scene of the early twenty-first century.

My first academic position was as an Assistant Professor of modern Chinese cultural studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University, where I taught from 2008 to 2013. After five years in the United States, I came back to the UK to work as a Lecturer in Chinese Cultural Studies at the University of Manchester, before returning to Cambridge to take up my current position in 2016. In addition to my academic work, I have written Chinese-language columns for newspapers, websites (e.g. this BBC China article) and magazines in the UK and China, done translating and interpreting work for ABC Sports, MTV China and other organisations and dabbled in Chinese-language blogging and song writing.

Research Interests

As related to mainland China, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan: contemporary literature, especially poetry and genre fiction; popular, fan and folk cultures; internet culture and society; media studies theories; sociology of literature and culture.

My research thus far has focused on interactions between media and culture in contemporary China, especially the ways in which twenty-first century digital media practices are shaping the production, circulation and reception of literature and culture. My first book, Verse Going Viral: China’s New Media Scenes (University of Washington Press, 2014), examines the interactions between poetry scene participants, the media, businesses and members of the non-poetry-reading public in the production and evaluation of contemporary Chinese poetry. A taste of my arguments in this book can be found on the University of Washington Press blog and in this interview with the China Digital Times. Supported by a British Academy Small Grant, I am currently conducting research for my second monograph, tentatively entitled Narrative Webs: Chinese Transmedia Popular Fiction, and am also working on articles on topics related to Chinese genre fiction and popular disaster narratives in Hong Kong.

Key Publications

Verse Going Viral: China’s New Media Scenes. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014.

Other Publications

"Screening the In-Between: Intermediality and Digital Dystopianism in Contemporary Chinese Film and Fiction." Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, 43, no.2 (2017): 193-219 (also online)

With Xiaofei Tian: "2006, September 30: Chinese Verse Going Viral: 'Removing the Shackles of Poetry.'" In David Der-wei Wang (ed), A New Literary History of China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017).

With Margaret Hillenbrand and Haomin Gong: Review of Internet Literature in China, by Michel Hockx. Asiascape: Digital Asia, 4 (2017), 159-170.

“Internet Literature: From YY to Mook.” In Kirk A. Denton (ed), The Columbia Companion to Modern Chinese Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), pp. 436-440.

“Poetry for the People? Modern Chinese Poetry in the Age of the Internet.” Chinese Literature Today, 5, no.1 (2015): 44-54 (also online).

“What’s in a Game? Transmedia Storytelling and the Web-Game Genre of Online Chinese Popular Fiction.” Asia Pacific: Perspectives, 11, no.2 (2014): 6-29 (also online).

Review of Romancing the Web: Producing and Consuming Chinese Web Romance, by Jin Feng. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture Resource Center (2014).

Review of Struggle and Symbiosis: The Canonization of the Poet Haizi and Cultural Discourses in Contemporary China, by Rui Kunze. Journal of Asian Studies, 72 no.1 (2013): 176-177.

“Yi Sha: Running His Race in the Ninth Lane.” Chinese Literature Today, 2, no.2 (2012): 7-10 (also online).

 “Popular Culture of East and Southeast Asia, 1900-present,” in Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, Vol.3, ed. Peter J. Seybolt (Thousand Oaks: SAGE, 2012): 345-347.

“Multimedia Quake Poetry: Convergence Culture After the Sichuan Earthquake.” The China Quarterly, 208 (2011): 932-950.

“Between License and Responsibility: Reexamining the Role of the Poet in Twenty-First Century Chinese Society.” Chinese Literature Today, 1, no.2 (2011): 49-55.

“Dangdai shige de meitihua” 当代诗歌的媒体化 (The mediatization of contemporary poetry). Xin shi pinglun 新诗评论 (New Poetry Criticism), 13 (2011): 3-23.

Review of Voices in Revolution: Poetry and the Auditory Imagination in Modern China, by John A. Crespi. China Review International, 6 no.1 (2009): 87-93.

Review of China’s Second World of Poetry: The Sichuan Avant-Garde, 1982-1992, by Michael M. Day. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture Resource Center (2009).

“Identity Politics in Online Chinese Poetry Groups.” Postmodern China special edition of Chinese History and Society/Berliner China-Hefte, 34 (2008): 77-94.