Dr. Beth Harper


I work across premodern European and Chinese literature and theory, with particular interests in tragedy, lyric, and comparative poetics. I am at work on a book entitled: Nothing but Time: the Tragic Bind of the Child in European Tragedy which reframes the European tragic tradition as a meditation on failed futurity. My next project: The Therapeutic Lyric will examine how the prestige literary cultures of ancient China and the Latin West use the lyric form to craft an art of life. Recent work has appeared in Shakespeare, English Studies, postmedieval, Comparative Literature: East & West, The Journal of East-West Thought, and is forthcoming in the Journal of World Literature and History of Humanities. A committed premodern comparatist, I have undergone training in Latin, Ancient Greek, French, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as classical and modern Chinese. Before arriving in Hong Kong, I was a Yale-China fellow at China Central Normal in Wuhan, a teaching fellow at the École normale supérieure in Lyon, and a researcher-in-residence at the École normale supérieure in Paris. Prior to my appointment in Comparative Literature, I held a post-doctoral fellowship in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at HKU.


• MA, Sinology, SOAS, University of London (2018)
• PhD, Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies, Yale University (2016)
• International Chinese Language Program, National Taiwan University (2014)
• MPhil, European Literature and Culture, Cambridge University (2008)
• MA, Classics, Cambridge University (2007)

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

• 2024. “East-West Cross-Cultural Encounters of the Lyric: Horace (BCE 65-8) and Tao Yuanming (CE 365-427)”, forthcoming in the Journal of World Literature.
• 2024. “Quo vadis, Comparative Environmental Humanities?” (with Tristan Brown), forthcoming in History of Humanities.
• 2023. “Mountains, Meaning, Mediation: Petrarch’s ‘Ascent to Mont Ventoux’ and the ecological imagination of classical Chinese poetry”, in postmedieval 14: 647-667.
• 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.

Courses taught for the department

CLIT 3021 Advanced Studies in Theory: Reading with the Ancients
CLIT 2102 The Tragic Imagination
CLIT 2008 World, Text, Critic
CLIT 1008 Ways of Reading: an Introduction to the Theory of Literature