Jian Xu

Associate Professor
French, Italian & Comp Literature
 Curtin Hall 785


  • PhD Comparative Literature, 2001, University of Iowa

Research Interests

I am always interested in the transformative power of literature and of the other semiotic system that is film. In recent years I have been looking into world literature and particularly contemporary Chinese fiction to see how the generative force of poiesis is performing the task of aesthetic redemption. I undertake to extract from it a future-oriented mode of literary worldmaking, a divergent plane of thought and action from a time-honored mimetic realism invested in historical truth. I am also working on two sub-topics related to poiesis. I call them the truth of others in fiction and the world of others in cinema.

Teaching Interests

My teaching interests, broadly speaking, are also in world literature and world cinema. I have integrated my research findings with my course contents. My teaching also helps me locate my latent research interests in other themes and topics. My interests in film genres and the body in cinema, for instance, and the issues of cultural identity and philosophical ethics readable through literature, have originated from the world cinema and world literature classes I teach. My courses on Chinese literature and film are designed to be a window to the fast-developing contemporary Chinese culture and society besides being a study of literary and film form and history. My courses on literary theory and criticism (such as Allegory and Allegoresis, and The World that Literature Makes) undertake to combine theory with practice and emphasize the use of concepts in the interpretation and understanding of literature.