Collegiate Affiliation

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I was born and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. I attended college at Middlebury College, a small liberal arts college in Vermont, a very different place from the University of Minnesota. I received a M.A. in Asian Studies from Yale University and a PhD in Chinese history from the University of California Berkeley. I have been on the faculty of the University of Minnesota since 1987. I have served in a number of administrative positions—Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Interim Chair of Asian Languages and Literatures (now Asian and Middle Eastern Studies), Founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, Chair of the Department of History, and now Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

My main body of research is the social history of sixteenth and seventeenth century China—I see my work as being at the margins of history and literature. But I also teach and write comparative history, which I do in collaboration with my colleague Mary Jo Maynes. We have written several pieces looking at gender and labor in Europe and China in comparative perspective. I directed more than twenty dissertations, and my former students have jobs in many universities in the United States, China and Taiwan.

In my spare time, I dance (though not particularly well) and think about gardening. (I used to do a lot of gardening, but as time goes on, my husband does most of the actual work.) I am pleased to be serving as the Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Chinese History, University of California, 1981


  • ritual
  • law
  • religion
  • traditional Chinese social history
  • gender
  • analysis of historical documentation
  • rumor
  • gossip
  • chinese history
  • world history
  • feminism