Beth Harper is a post-doctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at HKU where she works across Classical and Renaissance European literature, and premodern Chinese literature and thought. Beth earned her PhD in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies at Yale University, and holds an MA in Classics and an MPhil in European Literature from St John’s College, Cambridge. Before arriving in Hong Kong, Beth also completed an MA in Sinology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London where she was an HSBC scholar. A committed premodern comparatist, Beth works on literary texts in Latin, Ancient Greek, French, German, Italian and Classical Chinese.

In 2017-18, she was a Yale-China Guizishan fellow at China Central Normal University in Wuhan, PRC where she taught American Literature and Creative Writing. At Yale, she taught a wide array of literature courses including Shakespeare, Milton, Literary Theory, Introduction to Narrative, Travels and Quests in Early World Literature and Classical Mythologies. Further back in time, Beth taught literature and translation (French to English) as a lectrice d’anglais at the  École normale supérieure : lettres et sciences humaines in Lyon.  At HKU, Beth is preparing her first book on European tragedy and deepening her expertise in the Chinese literary and cultural tradition.

Her manuscript entitled The Lost Children of European Tragedy constitutes a wide-ranging study of the figure of the child (specifically, the lost or dead child) in the tragic tradition from classical antiquity to the early-modern period. Bringing together poststructuralist and feminist critiques about ideology, issues of psychoanalysis, and an interest in form and aesthetics, it argues for a new paradigm of tragedy and tragic desire. Beth’s next book project will explore rural and pastoral motifs in Latin and Chinese lyric. Beginning with Horace and Tao Yuanming, the project will consider broadly lyric poetry’s reflection on the relation between the human and natural worlds in two different cultural spheres.




Publications and Works in Progress

Peer-Reviewed Publications: 

2020: “Do not allow an empty goblet to face the moon”: wine cups, male identity and immortality in Li Bai 李白 701-762and Du Fu 杜甫 (712-770), forthcoming in postmedieval 11.1.

2019: “Theories of Tragedy: Transcultural Hauntings in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Ji Junxiang’s The Orphan of Zhao”, forthcoming in Comparative Literature: East & West.

2019. “A disease that’s in my flesh which I must needs call mine’’: Lear, Macbeth and the Fear of Futurity”, forthcoming in English Studies.

2019. ““Chaotic, Perfect and Fallen Wombs: Fantasies of the Female Principle in John Milton’s Paradise Lost,” forthcoming in Ex-position.

2017. “‘And men ne’er spend their fury on a child’ – Killing Children in Shakespeare’s Early Histories”, Shakespeare, 13.3: 193-209.

Notable Fellowships and Prizes

The Elizabethan Club of Yale University Essay Prize (2015 and 2016)

H.P. Kraus Fellowship in Early Books and Manuscripts, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (2013 and 2015)

The Richard U. Light Fellowship at Yale University for Intensive Chinese Language Study in Taiwan (2013-14)

Works in Progress / Under Review

Book manuscript in process: The Lost Children of Tragedy.

“Mastery of Mind and Matter: Narrative and the Individual in Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719)”, under review at Digital Defoe.

“Agrippa d'Aubigné''s Les Tragiques (1616): Figuring the family in historical and eschatological time”, under review at Early Modern French Studies.

“The early modern (non) reception of the Zhuangzi 莊子 text”, under review at the Journal of East-West Thought.

“Cross-cultural Encounters of the Lyric: Horace (BCE 65-8) and Tao Yuanming (CE 365-427)”, in preparation.


Last updated: 8 May 2019