• Email:   Tamara_Chin@Brown.edu
  • Mail:    Brown University, Department of Comparative Literature, Box E,                        Providence, RI 02912
  • Office:   Marston Hall 104
  • Office Phone: (401) 863-6925

Tamara Chin is an associate professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University.  She received her BA in Classics and Literature at Harvard College and her PhD in Comparative Literature (classical Chinese, Greek, Latin) at the University of California, Berkeley.  She previously taught at New York University (East Asian Studies) and the University of Chicago (Comparative Literature).   Click here for CV

Research interests


I work on antiquity and the modern reception of antiquity.  Much of my research explores what happens when one takes cross-cultural and connected histories, rather than national history, as the framework for literary inquiry.  My first book, Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style and the Economic Imagination ( Harvard University Press,  2014), explores the politics of literary representation during ancient China’s earliest expansion of local and long-distance (“Silk Road”) markets.  It elaborates a new cultural and literary approach to Chinese economic thought.

Click here for Publications and Click here for Talks


Reviews of Savage Exchange:

1.  Journal of Chinese Studies 《中國文化研究所學報》 61 (July 2015): 325-340 by Lothar von Falkenhausen, freely available online at: http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/ics/journal/articles/v61p325.pdf

2. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 78.3 (October 2015): 646 – 648

3. Journal of the American Oriental Society 135.2 (April–June 2015): 414-417

4. Click here for a New Books Network podcast interview with Prof. Carla Nappi about Savage Exchange (1/2015): http://newbooksnetwork.com/eastasianstudies/2015/01/30/tamara-t-chin-savage-exchange-harvard-university-asia-center-2014/

Click here to purchase Savage Exchange 

I am now working on two further book projects, one on the reception of antiquity and one on the ancient world.  The first, The Invention of the Silk Road, looks at the modern idea of the Silk Road, and at the production of the idea of pre-modern globalization across a range of disciplines, including literary studies, geography, and economic history.  The second builds more directly on Savage Exchange, shifting its focus to the rise of the Silk Road, 1-600 CE, especially between China and India (and westwards beyond that).  It reexamines the transformation of Chinese economic, cultural, gendered, and literary practices in the context of recent debates over a more global emergence toward the very end of this period of economies based on credit, faith, and community.


Early China, especially the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE); Cross-cultural/World history, especially 300 BCE to 700 CE; Modern antiquarianism/Classics, especially Chinese, British, and German (1850-present)


Comparative Literature, sinology & philology, New Historicism, postcolonial theory, feminist and queer studies, genre studies; cultural economics


Narrative, especially historiography; geography (ancient and modern); poetry and poetics; money; economic writings


Teaching Experience

I have taught extensively in the fields of East Asian studies, Comparative Literature, Classics, and Gender and critical theory at graduate and undergraduate levels. For East Asian departments I have taught introductory and graduate-level courses relating to early Chinese literature and thought, Silk Road history, and early Chinese historiography.  I have also taught an on-site undergraduate class in Beijing and Xi’an on the Silk Road.  For Comparative Literature, Classics, and Gender studies, I have taught introductory and graduate seminars: on critical theory, especially relating to cross-cultural comparison, New Historicism, postcolonial theory; on approaches to gender and sex in antiquity; and on Greek literature and thought.


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