First trained in English and Germanic Studies at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena (East Germany), I later embarked on a second career in Chinese Studies at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, with Japanese Studies and Chinese Art and Archaeology as minors. After my doctorate in 1998, I taught at Christian Albrechts University in Kiel (where I habilitated in 2004) and Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg. Since 2007, I have been a professor the Department of Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
My main research interests lie in the rich literature and culture of early and medieval China. In the last several years, I focused on the study of correspondence. My first book in English, Letter Writing and Epistolary Culture in Early Medieval China, was published by Washington University Press in 2013. The edited volume History of Chinese Epistolary Culture (Brill, 2015) collects twenty-fice articles about a variety of epistolary topics through the ages. The prevalence of health reports and inquiries in Chinese personal letters was one of the things that sparked my current research interest in illness narratives across genres in medieval China. I am studying how health and illness are represented in autobiography, literary criticism, poetry, historical accounts, fantastic tales, and religious texts to find out what role these representations play in larger narrative contexts and what they tell us about the medieval Chinese understanding of health, illness, and healing. For a second, related project I am also looking across genres—this time not so much because I am interested in a particular theme, but rather because I am exploring the role of imagination in medieval texts.
I am Editor for East Asia at The Journal of the American Oriental Society (JAOS) and a member of the executive board of the Early Medieval China Group.
Last update: January 2017