| Language



Associate Head


PhD (Princeton)

Associate Professor

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: (852) 3400 8931

Fax: (852) 2334 3747


Room HJ626, Stanley Ho Building,

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,

Hung Hom, Hong Kong


Academic Qualifications/學歷

  • Princeton University; Ph. D program, East Asian Studies (2000 – 2007)
  • Academia Sinica 中央研究院; Junior Visiting Scholar, Institute of History and Philology. Nan-kang, Taiwan (2003 – 2005)
  • Center for Non-Western Studies; Advanced Master’s Program. Leiden, The Netherlands (1998 – 1999).
  • Fo-kwang [Buddha’s Light] University 佛光大學; Graduate Program in Religious Studies, exchange student. Chia-i, Taiwan (fall semester 1997)
  • National Taiwan University 國立台灣⼤大學; Exchange student, Chinese History Dept. Taipei, Taiwan (1995 – 1996)
  • Leiden University; M.A. in Sinology, Leiden, The Netherlands (1990 – 1997)


Present Positions/現任

  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Chinese Culture, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2017-.


Positions Held/曾任

  • Associate Professor, “Chinese Religion.” East Asian Languages & Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2014-2017; before that, Assistant Professor, 2007-2014).
  • Visiting Associate Professor, Dept. of Chinese Studies, National University of Singapore (July 2015 – December 2016)
  • Resident Director, Global Gateway Program, Shanghai (May/June 2015)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica 中央研究院, Nan-kang, Taiwan (2 year postdoc, 2010 – 2012, second year not used).
  • Instructor, Bryn Mawr College (PA). Spring semesters of 2006 and 2007.


Honors and Awards

  • Summer Research Grant (Summer 2017). The Graduate School, UW-Madison
  • Senior Scholar Grant (February-June, 2016). Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, Taiwan
  • Research Grant for Foreign Scholars in Chinese Studies (July-December, 2015). Center for Chinese Studies, Taipei, Taiwan (forfeited 2015 and forfeited 2016).
  • NEH Summer Seminar, Introduction to Daoist Literature and History (July 14- Aug. 1, 2014). University of Colorado, Boulder.
  • Visiting Senior Research Fellowship (May-Aug. 2013). Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
  • Summer Research Grant (Summer 2012). The Graduate School, UW-Madison
  • CIAC Small Grant (Summer 2011). Association for Asian Studies
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-12). IHP, Academia Sinica, Taiwan (2nd year forfeited)
  • Junior Scholar Grant (2010-2011). Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, Taiwan
  • Summer Research Grant (Summer 2009). The Graduate School, UW-Madison
  • Research Grant (Summer 2007). École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), Paris
  • Dissertation Completion Fellowship (September 2005-August 2006). EAS Program, Princeton University
  • CCS Research Grant (January-June 2005). National Central Library Taiwan
  • Junior Visiting Scholar, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica (September 2003-August 2005)
  • Research Grant (2003). James Liu Foundation
  • Research Grant (Summer 2003). Graduate School, Princeton University
  • Traveling Award (Summer 2002). Graduate School, Princeton University
  • Pre-dissertation Scholarship (Summer 2001). Graduate School, Princeton Univ.
  • Five-Year Fellowship Award (2000-2005). Graduate School, Princeton University
  • Advanced Master’s Scholarship (1998-1999). Center for Non-Western Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • Exchange Student Scholarship (Fall 1997). One semester scholarship at Buddha’s Light University, Chia-I, Taiwan
  • Exchange Student Scholarship (1995-1996). Year-long scholarship for enrollment at National Taiwan University awarded by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan


Positions Requiring Scholarly Competence

  • Editorial Board, “Research Series on Sources of Daoist Ritual” 道教儀式資料研究叢 (edited by John Lagerwey & Lü Pengzhi, since 2011)
  • Editorial Board, “Journal of Daoist Studies” (since 2009)
  • Board Member, Society for the Study of Chinese Religion (SSCR; since 2017)
  • Steering Committee, Daoist Studies Group, AAR (2008-14)




  • Demonic Warfare: Daoism, Territorial Networks, and the History of a Ming Novel (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2015)
    demonic warfare

Articles and Chapters in Edited Volumes

  • “Chinese Religion in the Ming and Qing.” In Randall Nadeau (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Chinese Religions (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2011), pp. 125-144. Invited contribution.
  • “Dancing with the Gods: Daoist Ritual and Popular Religion in Central Hunan” In Lagerwey & Lü (eds.), Comparative Ethnography of Local Daoist Ritual 「地方道教儀式實地調查比較研究」. (Taibei: Xin Wenfeng, 2013), pp. 113-84. Invited contribution.
  • “Daoism.” In Jacob Neusner (ed.), Introduction to World Religions: Communities and Cultures (Abingdon Press, 2010), pp. 233-49. Invited contribution.
  • “Daoist Modes of Perception: “Registering” the Living Manifestations of Sire Thunder, and why Zhuang Zi is relevant.” Daoism: Religion, History and Society 道教研究學報 8 (Dec. 2016), pp. 33-89. [peer reviewed]
  • “Death and Demonization of a Bodhisattva: Guanyin’s Reformulation within Chinese Religion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 84.3 (2016), pp. 690-726 [peer reviewed]
  • “From ‘Withered Wood’ to ‘Dead Ashes’: Burning Bodies, Metamorphosis, and the Ritual Production of Power.” Cahiers d’Extrême Asie 19 (2010), pp. 217-66. [peer reviewed]
  • “The Dark Emperor’s Law: A Daoist Temple and Its Codification of Rituals in Hunan.” Studies in Chinese Religions 4.1 (March 2018): 66-111. [peer reviewed]

Work Accepted for Publication

  • “The Interiority of Landscape: Images towards Transcendence in 17th Century Chinese Painting.” Paper prepared for the symposium “Alternative Dreams” by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2016 (to be published in 2018).
  • “Of Statues and the Local Soil: How Village Gods in Hunan Speak Daoist Theology.” In Gil Raz (ed.), Daoist Visual Culture (forthcoming with Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, late 2017).
  • “Rituals at the Water Margin: How Shuihuzhuan Lets the Demons Play Only to Lock Them up Again.” In press. Will appear in edited volume; forthcoming with Hong Kong Commercial Press (Jan/Feb 2017).

Translations / 翻譯

  • “The Corpus of Daoist Ritual: The Song of the Dark Pearl.” In Jack Miles (ed.), The Norton Anthology of World Religions (NYC: Norton, 2015), pp. 1923-28.

Projects in Progress

  • “Living Transcendence: Daoism in a Chinese Village.” Book project that brings my ethnographic fieldwork in dialogue with Chinese history, literature and philosophy.
  • “Ghost Stories: The Social Imaginary of Ming China.” Book project that analyzes the “imagined community” of humans and spirits as narrated in late Ming stories.


  • Review of S. Jones, Daoist Priests of the Li Family: Ritual Life in Village China. Honolulu: Three Pines (2017). China Quarterly 233 (March 2018): 262-264.
  • Review of M. Shahar, Oedipal God: The Chinese Nezha and his Indian Origins. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press (2015). T’oung-Pao 103, 1-3 (2017): 291-296.
  • Review of W.L. Idema & S. West, The Generals of the Yang Family: Four Early Plays. Singapore: World Scientific (2013). Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 39 (2017): 181-84.
  • Review of R. Wang, The Ming Prince and Daoism. Oxford UP (2012). Published in Daoism: Religion, History, Society 1 (2013): 197-99.
  • Review of V. Goossaert and D. Palmer, The Religious Question in Modern China. Chicago UP (2011). Daoism: Religion, History, Society 道教研究學報 5 (2013): 210-12.
  • Review of Florian Reiter, Basic Conditions of Taoist Thunder Magic. Harrassowitz (2007). Published in Journal of Chinese Religion 36 (2008): 184-86.
  • Review of Livia Kohn and Harold Roth (eds.), Daoist Identity: History, Lineage, and Ritual. University of Hawai’i (2002). Published in December 2004 on www.daoiststudies.org

Invited Talks

  • Fengshen yanyi and its Relationship to Daoist Ritual in Hunan (PRC)” 《封神演義》與湖南道教的關係. Talk delivered in Mandarin at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, February 24, 2017.
  • Fengshen yanyi and the Ritual Challenge to Literature: A View from the Village” Talk delivered at the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, Feb. 21, 2017
  • Fengshen yanyi and the Ritual Challenge to Literature: A View from the Village” Talk delivered at the Dept. of Chinese Studies, NUS, Singapore, Nov. 14, 2016
  • “Enter the Vision: Daoist Directions for Finding Transcendence in Paintings.” Talk delivered at “Alternate Dreams: 17th-Century Chinese Paintings from the Tsao Family Collection,” symposium at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. October 15-16, 2016.
  • Fengshen yanyi and its Relationship to Daoist Ritual” 《封神演義》與道教的關系. Talk delivered in Mandarin at the Taoist College, Singapore, July 16, 2016.
  • “Painting Fiction as Reality: How to Deal with the Imaginary in Late Ming Classical Chinese Fiction” 畫虛為實:如何對待明末⽂文⾔言小說中的想像境界. Talk delivered in Mandarin at the National University of Singapore, October 27, 2015.
  • “How to capture Paradise? Uses of the Peach Blossom Spring by literati, ritualists, and farmers.” Talk delivered at the University of Pennsylvania, January 15, 2014
  • “Relating (to) the Chinese Past: Why Ritual is Important for Local History.” Paper presented for the ARI Seminar Series, NUS-ARI, Singapore, Aug. 20, 2013.
  • “What is Local about Local Religion? The Pantheon of an Ordination Document from Hunan.” Paper presented at the Conference “Scriptural Daoism and Local Religion,” National Cheng-Chi University, Taiwan, July 11-12, 2013.
  • “Of Statues and the Local Soil: How Village Gods in Hunan Speak Daoist Theology.” Paper presented at “Icons Charts and Talismanic Scripts: Daoist Visual Culture,” Workshop at Dartmouth College, Hanover (NH), May 22, 2012
  • “The Gods of Literature: Ming Novels and their Ritual Models.” Talk delivered at Barnard College, March 1, 2012
  • “Rethinking the Novel: Exorcism, Community, and Vernacular Narrative in Late Imperial China.” China Humanities Seminar, Harvard University, Nov. 28, 2011.
  • “Ming Dynasty Novels and the Traditions of the Ritual Masters” 明代小説與法師傳統. Talk in Mandarin Chinese at the Institute of Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, July 27, 2011.
  • “The Daoists of Yangyuancun (Hunan)” 湖南楊源村道⼠士. Presentation in Mandarin Chinese, International Scholarly Conference on the Comparative Ethnography of Local Daoist Ritual. Chinese U. of Hong Kong, April 21-25, 2011.
  • “Locality, State, and Taoist Liturgy: The Contest over Local Religion and its Spatial Powers.” Workshop on Daoist Ritual and Chinese Popular Religion, December 2010, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
  • “Of ‘Withered Wood’ and ‘Dead Ashes’: Self-incineration in the Ritual of Body Transformation” 「枯⽊木」與「死灰」:化身儀式中的⼈人體自焚. Talk in Mandarin Chinese at National Cheng-Chih University, Dec. 16, 2010.
  • “Zhuang Zi’s Withered Wood and Dead Ashes: Human Self-Incineration in the Daoist Ritual of Body-transformation 《莊子》的「枯木」與「死灰」:道 教化身儀式中的⼈人體自焚. Talk in Mandarin Chinese at National Taiwan Normal University (Dept. of Religious Studies), Nov. 4, 2010.
  • Roundtable discussion on “Han Xin’s Revenge: A Daoist Mystery.” (Chinese Religions Group, A18-114). AAR 2007, San Diego.
  • “From the Performance of History to the Division of ‘Cosmic Fields:’ Ming Dynasty Novels and Temple Festivals” 由國家歷史的表演到「星野」的分配 – 明代小說與廟會. Paper presented in Chinese at the ‘Workshop for Religion and Ritual Customs’ at Academia Sinica, Nan-kang, Taiwan, September 7, 2004.

Conference and Other Participation

  • “Communicating with Spirits: Text and Divination in Late Imperial China” AAS Panel, Toronto, March 2017. Chair/Discussant.
  • “The Formation of Social Institutions: Investigating the Daoist Ritual Framework from the Perspective of Village Altars in Hunan” 社會制度的形成:從湖南鄉村神龕考察道教儀式架構. Talk delivered in Mandarin at the Workshop on Local Society and its Religious Institutions, Centre for Historical Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong. Sept. 2016.
  • “Ritual and Locality: Fengshen Yanyi, Tianxin Dafa, Leifa, and other aspects of Village Daoism in Hunan.” International Conference on Daoist Ritual in Comparative Perspective. December 2015, Hong Kong University.
  • “On ‘Representation’ in Narrative and Other Arts: How Daoists Captured Sire Thunder Not Dead But Alive.” Presentation at the International Conference of Daoist Studies in Honor of Kristofer Schipper’s 80th Birthday. September 2015, Aussois, France.
  • “Female Warriors, Astral Deities, and Sacrificial Food: Religion and the Making of Vernacular Literature in Late Imperial China” (China and Inner Asia) AAS Conference, March 2015, Chicago. Discussant.
  • “Beyond the Daoist Canon: Alternative Approaches to the Study of Daoist Ritual” (Daoist Studies Group, A23-220). AAR 2014, San Diego. Discussant.
  • “Let the Demons Play: Daoist Exorcism and Theatrical Redemption.” Presentation at the 9th International Conference on Daoist Studies, Boston University, May 29-June 1, 2014.
  • “Dancing with the Gods: Village Daoists in China.” Public lecture presented at the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover (NH), May 23 - May 24, 2012.
  • “With both Feet firmly up in the Air: Who controls Zhang Wulang, the Controller of Demons?” (Chinese Religions Group) AAS Conference, April 2011, Honolulu.
  • “Zhuang Zi and Daoist Ritual” 《莊子》與道教儀式. Presentation at the Fifth International Daoist Studies Conference, June 2009, Wudangshan (PRC)
  • “Body-transformation in Daoist Ritual.” (Daoist Studies and Chinese Religions Group, A1-214). AAR 2008, Chicago.
  • “Images of Deified Demons in Vernacular Fiction and Daoist Ritual.” (China & Inner Asia, 203). AAS 2008, Atlanta.
  • “Violated Bodies: How Guanyin Became a Domesticated Demon.” (Chinese Religions Group, A19-21). AAR 2006, Washington DC.
  • “A Reading of Thunder Gods: Pantheons as Maps to Daoist History.” (Chinese & Inner Asia, 169). AAS 2005, Chicago. Organizer.
  • “Disciplining Thunder: New Career Openings for ‘Cultless’ Deities.” Paper presented at the conference ‘Daoism and the Modern World’ at Boston University, June 2003


Course Taught

Bryn Mawr College:

  • EAS B231, “Introduction to Daoism” (Spring 2006)
  • EAS B210, “Late Imperial Chinese Popular Culture” (Spring 2007)
  • EAS B210a, “Chinese Origins: Ancient Religion and Philosophy” (Spr. 2007)
  • EAS B200, “Sophomore Seminar: Methods and Approaches in East Asian Studies” (Spring 2007)

University of Wisconsin, Madison:

  • RS 200 “Topics in Religious Studies: Society, Modernity, and Chinese Religion”
  • EA/RS/LCA 235, “Genres of Asian Religious Writing” (annual)
  • EA/RS 350, “Introduction to Taoism” (annual)
  • EA 371, “Topics in Chinese Literature: Journey to the West” (bi-annual)
  • EA 661, “History of Chinese Thought, Part I” (bi-annual)
  • EA 662, “History of Chinese Thought, Part II” (bi-annual)
  • EA 971, “Seminar in Chinese Thought: Daoist Ritual and Narrative” (2007)
  • -- “The World of Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi” (2009)
  • -- “Exorcisms, Festivals, and Theatre in Late Imperial Popular Culture” (2011)
  • -- “Ghost Stories and Divine Records of the Ming” (2014)

National University of Singapore

  • GEK 1007, Chinese Heritage: Literature and History (fall 2015 & 2016)
  • CH 2223, Chinese Fiction (spring 2016). Taught in Mandarin as: 中國小說
  • CH 2291, Chinese Traditions (spring and fall 2016)



The Hong Kong Polytechnic University:


  • Associate Head, Dept. of Chinese Culture (since March 2018)
  • Chair, Departmental Research Committee (since March 2019)
  • Faculty Research Committee, member (since 2019)
  • Departmental Staffing Committee, member (since 2017)


  • Committee on General University Rules, Coordinator for: History, Cultures, and World Views (since 2017)
  • Faculty Board (Faculty of Humanities [FH]), member (since 2017)
  • Board of School of Hotel and Tourism Management, FH representative (since 2018)
  • Grievance Committee, member (since 2018)

University of Wisconsin at Madison:

  • Undergraduate adviser, Chinese Major (2007-09; 2013-2015)
  • Faculty Senator (2007-08; 2013-2014)
  • Secretary, Dept’s Executive Committee (2014 – 15)
  • Member, Future of Asian Studies Committee (2014 – 15)
  • Member, Wisconsin China Initiative (2014 – 2017)
  • Member, Fundraising Committee (2014 – 2017)
  • Member, Graduate Admissions Committee (2014 – 2017)
  • Member, Web committee (2012 – 2017)
  • Member, Curriculum Committee (2010 – 2017)
  • Secretary, Dept’s faculty meeting (2007 – 2010)


  • Co-organizer, “Supernatural Presences in East Asian Culture.” University-wide series of workshops and performances for the Year of the Humanities, with two ritual performances by six Daoists from rural Hunan (Sept. 2009 – May 2010)

Thesis Supervision

PhD (supervision and co-supervision)

  • Back, Youngsun, “Handling Fate: The Ru Discourse on Ming 命” Ph.D. Diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010. Co-supervised with Mark Csikszentmihalyi (UC-Berkeley).
  • Brackenridge, Scot, “The Character of Wei-Jin Qingtan: Reading Guo Xiang’s Zhuang Zi Commentary as an Expression of Political Practice.” Ph.D. Diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010. Co-supervised with Mark Csikszentmihalyi (UC-Berkeley).
  • Lee, Yong-yun, “Ethical mapping of Tian 天 and Dao 道: The Interaction between Cosmology and Ethics in Early China” Ph.D. Diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011. Co-supervised with Mark Csikszentmihalyi (UC-Berkeley).
  • Zürn, Tobias, “Writing as Weaving: Intertextuality and the Huainanzi’s Self-Fashioning as an Embodiment of the Way.” Ph.D. Diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016.

PhD and MA (committee service)

  • Cao Weiguo, “In Search of Verifiable Truth: Liang Yusheng’s Critical Study of the Doubtful Passages in the Grand Scribe’s Records.” Ph.D. Diss. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016.
  • Frost, Steven Q., “The Altar of Primordial Treasure: Ritual, Theater and Community Life in the Mountains of China’s Guizhou Province.” PhD Dissertation, Leiden University (Netherlands) 2016.
  • Lu Chentong, “Song Lian and his Confucian-Daoist Unity.” M.Phil., Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2016.
  • Wu Chen, “How a City Speaks: Urban Space in Chang’an and the Construction of Tang Dynasty Narratives.” Ph.D. Diss. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016.
  • Zhao Hui 趙慧, Liuchao zhi Tang-Songjian shengui futi gushi yanjiu 六朝至唐宋間神鬼附體故事研究——以《太平廣記》、《夷堅志》為核心. MA thesis, National University of Singapore, 2016.



Dutch and German (native languages); Mandarin, English, and French (fluent); Japanese and Spanish (reading proficiency); Greek and Latin (passive); Taiwanese (beginner/intermediate); Cantonese (very dusty)