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Beth Harper


Beth Harper is a literary scholar who works across Classical and Renaissance European Literature, and premodern Chinese Literature and Thought. She earned her PhD in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies at Yale University, and holds an MA in Classics and an MPhil in European Literature from St John’s College, Cambridge. Before arriving in Hong Kong, Beth engaged in sinological study as an HSBC fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and as a Yale-China Guizishan fellow at China Central Normal University. Beth will spend her time with the Society publishing her first book on European tragedy and deepening her knowledge of the Chinese literary and cultural tradition.

Her manuscript entitled The Lost Children of European Tragedy constitutes a wide-ranging study of the figure of the child (specifically, the lost or dead child) in the tragic tradition from classical antiquity to the early-modern period. Bringing together poststructuralist and feminist critiques about ideology, issues of psychoanalysis, and an interest in form and aesthetics, it argues for a new paradigm of tragedy and tragic desire. An article from this project has appeared in Shakespeare. Beth’s next project will explore rural and pastoral motifs in Latin and Chinese lyric. Beginning with Horace and Tao Yuanming, the project will consider broadly lyric poetry’s reflection on the relation between the human and natural worlds. In contrast to her tragedy book which explores filiation between works, this project will compare precisely that elite canonical poetry that did not travel beyond its own cultural sphere.



Peer-Reviewed Publications 

2020. “Do not allow an empty goblet to face the moon”: lyrical materialities in the drinking poems of Li Bai 李白(701-762)and Du Fu 杜甫(712-770)”, “Contract Zones: Fur/Flesh/Fabric/Fieldstone”, postmedieval 11.1: 57-67.

2019. “The early modern (non) reception of the Zhuangzi 莊子 text”, the Journal of East-West Thought, 4.9: 23-37.

2019. ““A disease that’s in my flesh which I must needs call mine’’: Lear, Macbeth and the Fear of Futurity”, English Studies, 100.6: 604-626.

2019. “Theories of Tragedy: Transcultural Hauntings in Shakespeare’s Hamletand Ji Junxiang’s The Orphan of Zhao”, Comparative Literature: East & West, 3.1: 38-52.

2017. “‘And men ne’er spend their fury on a child’ – Killing Children in Shakespeare’s Early Histories”, Shakespeare, 13.3: 193-209.

Notable Fellowships and Prizes

The Elizabethan Club of Yale University Essay Prize (2015 and 2016)

H.P. Kraus Fellowship in Early Books and Manuscripts, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (2013 and 2015)

The Richard U. Light Fellowship at Yale University for Intensive Chinese Language Study in Taiwan (2013-14)

Works in Progress / Under Review

Book manuscript under consideration: Nothing But Time: the Lost Children of Tragedy from Euripides to Racine

 “Agrippa d’Aubigné”s Les Tragiques (1616): Figuring the family in historical and eschatological time”, under review at Early Modern French Studies.

 “Cross-cultural Encounters of the Lyric: Horace (BCE 65-8) and Tao Yuanming (CE 365-427)”, in preparation.

Conferences and Symposia

“Cross-cultural Encounters of the Lyric: Horace (BCE 65-8) and Tao Yuanming (CE 365-427)”, the International Comparative Literature Association, The University of Macao, 29th July-1st August 2019.

“An empty chamber gives birth to brightness: refinding the wilderness in early Chinese poetry”, The Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities, Tokyo, Japan, 24-26 May 2019.

“Women: Retelling the China Stories”, invited delegate to the Yenching Global Symposium at the Yenching Academy, PKU, Beijing, 29th-31st March.

“Bad Mothers in Early Modern Receptions of Greek Tragedy”, Evil Women Women and Evil: An Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference, Vienna, Austria, 1-2 December 2018.

“The Enduring Fantasy of the Murderous Mother”, Literary Fantasy and Its Discontents, Taipei Tech, Taipei, Taiwan, 21-23 November 2018.

“Christian Mysticism, Platonism and the Zhuangzi: first contacts and collisions”, Contemporary Philosophy in East Asia (CPEA) Conference, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan. 9-11th August 2018.

“Enduring embodiments: lyrical afterlives in China and the West”, the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Utrecht University, the Netherlands. 6th-9th July 2017.

‘“Let this chalice pass from me”’: the lament of the sacrificial child in Greek tragedy and beyond’, ACLA, Harvard University, USA. 19th March 2016.

“Filial sacrifice and the dark heart of sacred tragedy”, An Honourable Death Interdisciplinary Conference, Birkbeck College, London. Saturday 9th May, 2015.

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