Skip to Content

Roy Chan

Roy Chan profile picture
  • Affiliation: faculty
  • Title: Associate Professor, Chinese Literature
  • Additional Title: William and Susan Piché Faculty Fellow
  • Office: 426 Friendly Hall
  • Office Hours: Spring 2020: T 2-4 and by appt, please email to schedule Zoom session
  • Teaching Level: Doctoral, Masters, Undergraduate
  • Affiliated Departments: Asian Studies, Comparative Literature Department, Russian East European and Eurasian Studies
  • Interests: Modern Chinese and Russian Literatures, Critical Theory, Formalism, Affect Studies, Sociolinguistic Literary Criticism


Roy Chan is a literary comparatist who specializes in modern Chinese and Russian literatures. His book, The Edge of Knowing: Dreams, History, and Realism in Modern Chinese Literature, examines the rhetoric of dreams and reality and its relationship to issues of literature, modernity, and revolutionary utopianism in modern Chinese fiction. His second project engages a translingual and transcultural literary critique of Soviet/Russian and Chinese literary texts that address the other country tentatively titled Fictive Reorientations: The Authority and Place of Literature Between China and Russia. A third project, in beginning stages of preparation, aims to comparatively explore relationships between emotion, mourning, and care in Soviet/Post-Soviet and modern Chinese cultures, and their relation to psychology, counseling, biopolitics, and sociality and self. Research interests include modern literature, realism, narrative, the imperial imagination, and popular culture, among others. Theoretical concerns include Marxism, psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality, semiotics, formalism, and affect. 

Students who wish to pursue a PhD with Prof. Chan should have interests and experience in the primary areas of modern Chinese literature, modern Russian literature, or comparative literature. Moreover, Prof. Chan would prefer to work with students with interests and experience in literary theory, critical theory, and/or intellectual history.


He received his Ph.D. (2009) in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and also holds a B.A. (2002) in Russian and Comparative Literature from the University of Washington. Prior to coming to Oregon, he taught at the College of William and Mary, and was a Harvard University Fairbank Center An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Studies.


He teaches a wide array of courses spanning modern Chinese literature, popular Chinese culture, modern Russian literature, and Comparative Literature.

Brief statement of teaching philosophy (6/4/2020):
In my undergraduate teaching, I try to demonstrate how works of literature and culture aesthetically give expression to what it means to strive for freedom, while understanding that the notion of human freedom is itself subject to debate and critique, and informed by historical and geographic circumstances. To that end, works of art inevitably touch on questions of value, ethics, and justice, but often without prescribing what it is we should think and believe, thus leaving this question for us to decide. Engaging with art as students and as humans is a critical means by which we realize our own freedom. 

Graduate seminars previously taught:
COLT 610: Memorial, Mourning, and Mortality: Death and the Time of Writing
RUSS 434/534 Comparative Realisms in Russia and China
EALL 607 Workshop in Theory in East Asia
CHN 607 Lu Xun
CHN 607 Mind and Spirit in Modern Chinese Literature
CHN 607 The Cultural Revolution and the Question of Culture
CHN 607 Late-Qing Literature
CHN 410/510 Reading Socialist Texts
CHN 407/507 "Class" in Modern Chinese Literature

Undergraduate courses previously taught:
CHN 152 Introduction to Chinese Popular Culture
CHN 307 History of Modern Chinese Literature
CHN 351 Gender and Sexuality in Modern Chinese Literature


Articles, Chapters in Edited Volumes, Monographs (selected):
"Formalism." Invited essay for The Afterlives of Chinese Communism, edited by Christian Sorace, Ivan Franceschini, and Nicholas Loubere (Australian National University Press and Verso, 2019), 77-80.
“The Revolutionary Metapragmatics of Laughter in Zhao Shuli’s Fiction," in Maoist Laughter, ed. Jason McGrath, Zhuoyi Wang, Ping Zhu (Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press, 2019), 147-161.
"Homeless in the World: War, Narrative, and Historical Consciousness in Eileen Chang, Gyorgy Lukacs, and Lev Tolstoy," in Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese 14 no. 1 (Summer 2017): 45-69.
The Edge of Knowing: Dreams, History, and Realism in Modern Chinese Literature (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017).
“Broken Tongues: Race, Sacrifice and Geopolitics in the Far East in Vsevolod Ivanov’s ‘Armored Car No. 14-69’,” in Sibirica: Journal of Siberian Studies 10 no.3 (2011): 25-54.

Lu Xun. “Curiosities,” “Before the Appearance of Geniuses,” and “A Brief Glimpse of Shanghai’s Literature” (co-translated with Yu Chih Chou). In Jottings Under Lamplight, edited by Eileen Cheng and Kirk Denton (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017).

Reviews (selected):
Book review of Red at Heart: How Chinese Communists Fell in Love with the Russian Revolution, by Elizabeth McGuire. The China Journal no. 82 (2019).
Review of Little Reunions, by Eileen Chang and translated by Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz. Published in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture Resource Center. (2018).
Review of Chinese Avant-Garde Fiction: Quest for Historicity and Transcendent Truth,by Zhansui Yu. The China Quarterly 232 (December 2017).
Review of Perfect Worlds: Utopian Fiction in China and the West,by Douwe Fokkema. Comparative Literature Studies 51.4 (2014).

Other Writing:
​“現實主義與無國界文學” (Realism and Borderless Literature). Translated by Wayne Yeung. In 字花/Fleurs des Lettres 79 (2019).