Dr. Carlos Yu-Kai Lin

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Lecturer, Chinese Literature
Contact Information
Office Address: 
853 Williams Hall
Email Address: 



PhD, University of Southern California, 2015

MS, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2007 

Research and Teaching Interests: 

Modern Chinese literature and film, modern Chinese thought, history of Chinese fiction, Sinophone discourses, and theories and methods of world literary studies

Recent Courses: 

Modern Chinese Literature (Spring 2018)

Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature and Film (Fall 2016)

Seminar in Modern Chinese Literature: New Literature Movement, 1917-2017 (Spring 2017; Fall 2017)

Chinese Film (Spring 2017; Fall 2017)

Chinese Popular Culture (Fall 2017)

Chinese Fiction and Drama: Romance of Three Kingdoms (Spring 2017; Spring 2018)

This course explores Romance of Three Kingdoms (三國演義)—the most popular classical novel in East Asia and an important source for understanding Chinese culture, politics, history, and military strategy. We propose to read this work not only as a textbook of Chinese literature and culture but also as a guidebook for career development and risk assessment. Why didn't Pangtong have a career as successful as Zhuge Liang? Why did Ma Su volunteer in a project that he is not good at? If Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Quan run for the presidency in this country, who would you vote for and why? These are some of the questions that we will explore alongside our inquiry into the historical development of various genres of Chinese fiction. In addition to Romance of Three Kingdoms, this course introduces Sun Tsu's The Art of War and other classical Chinese novels such as Dream of the Red Chamber and Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. We will also invesitgate works of classical literary criticism such as Cao Pi's On the Standard of Literature (Dian lun), Lu Ji's Essays on Literature (Wen lun), and Liu Xie's The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons.
Brief Biography: 

I completed my Ph.D from the University of Southern California. My work addresses the historical and discursive condition in which “Chinese literature” emerges as a concept indicating a world literary system. Contrary to existing scholarship that emphasizes “the modern” in exploring Chinese literary modernity but sees “Chinese literature” as a given and ahistorical concept, my work explores this compound itself, revealing how it became an independent knowledge category that implies a global literary world. By understanding “Chinese literature” as an overdetermined concept that develops out of a complex network, I demonstrate that Chinese intellectuals had assimilated and negotiated with various social, ideological, and scientific concepts, from ancient China, modern Western countries, and Japan, to imagine and articulate a universal idea of literature in Chinese terms. I am currently working on a manuscript titled Imagined Universality: A Conceptual History of Chinese Literature, which provides a historical account of the rise of “literature” as well as its related concepts into modern knowledge categories that bear universal implications. I had taught in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley and Davis before I came to teach in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Penn.


Selected Publications: 

"Introduction to 'Fiction as a Modern Literary Genre' Project" in Newsletter for Research in Chinese Studies. (2017) Volume 36, Issue 3: 32-36.

Review of The Chinese Political Novel: Migration of a World Genre, by Catherine Vance Yeh. Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews, (2016), 227-229.

"Double Inscription and the Concept of Origin in Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan" in Theoretical Studies in Literature and Art. (2016) Volume 36, Issue 6: 169-183.

Review of Zhuangzi and Modern Chinese Literature, by Liu Jianmei. MCLC Resource Center: Modern Chinese Literature and Culture. URL: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/carlos-lin/ (2016).

“The Universality of the Concept of Modern Literature: Wang Guowei, Zhou Zuoren, and Other May Fourth Writers’ Conception of Wenxue.” Journal of the History of Ideas in East Asia. Volume 8 (2015): 343-400.

“The Rise of Xiaoshuo as a Literary Concept: Lu Xun and the Question of ‘Fiction’ in Chinese Literature.” Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. (2014) Volume 8, Issue 4: 631-651.

“A Radical Interpretation of Fromm’s Concept of Man.” (Fuluomu guanyu ren de gainian—yige jijinxing de quanshi) Con-temporary (Dangdai). Volume 210 (2005): 132-143.

“The Historical Position of Louis Althusser: the Epistemological Break of Marx.” (Atusai de lishi dingwei—makesi renshilun shang de duanlie) Con-temporary (Dangdai). Volume 203 (2004): 112-121.

“Four Phases of Alienation—A Study of the Temporality of Marx’s Concept of Alienation.” (Yihua de sige jieduan—makesi yihua sixiang de shijianxing kaocha) Hsiuping Journal of Humanities and Social Science. (Peer-reviewed journal) Volume 4 (2004): 1-26.