By Andre Joseph Theng
There is a new face in Professor Douglas Kerr’s former office, and he is none other than Assistant Professor Brandon Chua who recently joined the School this academic year. Originally from Singapore, he has spent time in the United Kingdom and more recently, in Australia before coming to Hong Kong.
Coming to Hong Kong has always been a dream of his. He says “I’ve always seen myself working and living in an Asian city. Hong Kong was top on my list of course, and I’ve been looking out for opportunities to move here”. When such an opportunity arose in the School, Brandon did not hesitate to apply.
Having been here for about three months now, he has not had a chance yet to explore much outside the university, but loves the fact that the university is so much a part of the city. He says, “The city is just beyond the university; I think this adds another dimension to academia when we are not isolated from social life and that we can locate and situate our work in the city, especially since teaching and research can sometimes be isolating.” He is looking forward to seeing more of what the city has to offer when the holidays come around.
Prior to this appointment, Brandon completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne. He also spent six years at the University of Queensland in various capacities including teaching fellow, and as a post-doctoral fellow in the Australian Research Council’s Centre for Excellence for History of Emotions, a multi-disciplinary and inter-university research centre.
Brandon loves literature, and enjoys reading both for fun and for research. His research interests are in 18th century Restorationist Literature, a time of political instability in England. In particular, he is interested in the way literary texts posit certain political situations, and their representations of a collective people be it as a nation, or as a political group. “The key question is: what holds a people together?” He finds this question especially relevant to the times that we live in, in light of political instability and as nations grapple with their identity in relation to other nations or political unions. “There is a certain anxiety surrounding what holds a community together and how that community is defined,” Brandon adds.
In his free time, he reads historical and detective fiction. He does not have any favourite authors (He tends to connect more with genres and settings rather than authors), but currently counts Madison Smartt Bell’s All Souls’ Rising as one of his favourite reads. He also enjoys playing tennis.
Although just in his first semester here, he already has his hands full as an advisor to this magazine and with teaching an undergraduate class on Milton. He is scheduled to teach a course on Narratives in the coming semester. He also has several ideas for courses he would like to teach at the University, including one on the 18th century novel. “The English novel was arguably invented in the 18th century, with the rise of the novel in response to earlier conventions of theatre and public poetry,” Brandon explains. He also hopes to teach a course on Libertinism (“It’s going to be racy and fun,” he promises), and one on Australian Literature. Students surely have much to look forward to in the coming semesters.
Be sure to say hi to Brandon when you bump into him in the hallways. A big welcome from all of us at the School of English!