Min Zhao






Min Zhao

DPhil candidate, Faculty of English Language and Literature



Hello! I am Min Zhao and am a first-year DPhil student in English at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. I graduated with a BA in English Language and Literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University (China) in 2019, and with an MA in English Literature from University of Warwick (UK) in 2020. During my undergraduate studies, I also spent one year studying English Language and Linguistics at Aston University (UK).

My main academic interest is cross-cultural, cross-temporal, and transnational comparisons, and these comparisons are treated in my current doctoral project, which looks at the gendered construction of Song Dynasty poet Li Qingzhao and her poetry through her Chinese critical reception and Anglophone translational reception. My broader academic interests include comparative and world literature, translation studies, gender and women’s studies, and the reception of Chinese literature across cultures. Besides literature, I love the humanities generally, and enjoy exploring literature’s interaction with the neighbouring fields of art, history, philosophy, and so on.

Outside research, I am enthusiastic about organising events concerning Chinese literature and culture, and have also had experience in teaching British students Mandarin. I also love playing the piano, hiking, Wong Kar-wai films, and many genres of modern music such as Chinese Shidaiqu music and American Jazz.

DPhil topic

My DPhil project seeks to probe the multiple significances and readings invested in Chinese and English language translations of Song Dynasty woman poet Li Qingzhao. It is a methodologically innovative comparative study of reception in the native language and in translation. Fundamentally, it will challenge long-standing gendered/essentialist interpretations of Li and her works that dominate past and current Chinese and Anglophone scholarship and criticism on her, and offer a fresh perspective on her place in national and global literary canons. Furthermore, by exploring how, in the contexts of shifting ideological, literary, cultural, and gender-centred developments, Li’s gender has influenced the ways in which her voice has been over-written, dubbed, diminished, and resuscitated to mould her into a canonical woman poet, I will illuminate the subordination of women in/through language and how it is transmitted or destabilised when travelling into other cultures. Finally, my discussion of translations of both of Li’s “masculine” and “feminine” poems as embodiment of the ideal of écriture féminine will expand our contemporary understandings of femininity, and clarify the role of translation in configuring transnational gender(ed)/sexual/cultural identities and shaping Western (mis)perceptions of Chinese/Asian women.