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current prof swartz pic


Director of Graduate Studies
Associate Professor of Chinese Literature
Affiliate Faculty Member of Comparative Literature

Scott Hall, Room 323
College Avenue Campus

Office Hours: By appointment

Office Phone Number: 848-932-6477 


Curriculum Vitae

Professor Swartz is the author of Reading Tao Yuanming: Shifting Paradigms of Historical Reception (427-1900) (Harvard University Asia Center, 2008), which critically examines readings of both Tao and his oeuvre over a fifteen-hundred year span. This study shows that the construction of Tao Yuanming as one of China’s greatest cultural icons was a collective and cumulative process, driven by a centuries-long conversation centered on three categories that lay at the heart of literati culture—reclusion, personality, and poetry— a conversation in which varying readings of Tao’s life and works were informed by changing aesthetic and moral concerns and by the development of new hermeneutical tools and critical lexicons. Reading Tao Yuanming has been translated into Chinese: the Traditional Chinese character edition was published by Linking Press (Taipei) in 2014 and the Simplified Chinese Character edition was published by Zhonghua Book Company (Beijing) in 2016.

She is also the principal editor of Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook (Columbia University Press, 2014). The first of its kind, this volumepresents a broadly-based selection of important texts from this formative period in the disciplines of literature, historiography, art history, and religion. It aims to provide a new organization of texts and new ways of conceptualizing the period, making available many texts for the first time in English, along with critical scholarship written by experts on the various subjects. Early Medieval China was named "Best Reference Title" by Library Journal in March 2015.

Professor Swartz's current book project, whose working title is Reading Philosophy, Writing Poetry: Intertextual Modes of Making Meaning in Early Medieval China, examines how early medieval poets quoted from a set of philosophical classics, the so-called “three mysterious” texts (Classic of Changes, Laozi, and Zhuangzi). This project tackles a number of crucial questions that pertain to the relation between writing and the past in the context of allusion and quotation as well as that between readability and iterability (capacity for repetition, particularly as citation). In the Chinese poetic tradition, where writing was deeply embedded in consensus vocabularies of responses to the outer world, the goal of the poet was not only to learn this repertoire of responsiveness but also to stretch and build on it. Intertextuality, a principle of writing, constituted equally a mode of reading: reading and writing well meant demonstrating a command of the literary tradition and cultural codes via the fundamentally intertextual practices of allusion and quotation. This project critically analyzes and conceptualizes allusion and quotation, which tend to be skimmed over as mere literary conventions, in order to illuminate traditional Chinese assumptions of writing and reading.


  • Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles
  • M.A. University of California, Los Angeles
  • B.A. University of California, San Diego

Areas of Specialization

  • Medieval Chinese Poetry
  • Literary Theory and Criticism
  • Comparative Poetics


reading_Tao_Yuanming early_medieval_china getImage Reading Tao Yuanming 

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

Courses Taught

  • Chinese Literature in Translation (01:165:241)
  • Chinese Classics and Thought: Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism (01:165:220)
  • History of Chinese Literature (01:165:461)
  • Nature in Chinese Literature (01:217:525)
  • Topics in Classical Chinese Poetry and Poetics: Han, Wei and Six Dynasties (16:217:527)
  • Tang Poetry (16:217:528)

Selected Awards and Distinctions

  • Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange Scholar Grant, 2017-18
  • American Council of Learned Societies/Luce Foundation Collaborative Reading Worshop Grant (co-awardee), 2017-18
  • Member, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2014-2015
  • Best Reference Title, Library Journal (for Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook), March 2015
  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title (for Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook), 2014
  • Taiwan Ministry of Education Visiting Scholar Grant, 2012
  • Rutgers University Research Council Grant, 2012
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 2011-2012
  • Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange Junior Scholar Sabbatical Grant, 2008
  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title (for Reading Tao Yuanming: Shifting Paradigms of Historical Reception (427-1900)), 2008
  • “New Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society” Conference Grant and Publication Subsidy, funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and the American Council of Learned Societies (for Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook), 2007
  • Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange Workshop Grant (awarded annually since 2003)

Contact Us

changduk palace v1Asian Languages and Cultures

Scott Hall
Room 330 43 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Phone: 732-932-7605
Fax: 732-932-7926
E-mail: Susan Humphrey, Program Coordinator