I was first trained in English and Germanic Studies at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena (East Germany). In 1989, I embarked on a second career in Chinese Studies at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, with Japanese 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. In 2007, I joined the Department of Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
My main research interests lie in the rich literature and culture of early and medieval China. For the last several years, I was especially engaged in 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. In 2015, an edited volume, also dedicated to letter writing, History of Chinese Epistolary Culture, came out with Brill. It collects 25 articles about a variety of epistolary topics through the ages. The prevalence of health reports and inquiries in Chinese personal letters has lead to my current research interest in medical 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. In a second, related project I am also looking across genres—not so much because I am interested in a particular theme, but rather because I am exploring the role of imagination in a broad spectrum of medieval texts.
Last update: September 2015