Beth Harper

Beth Harper is a literary scholar who works across Classical and Renaissance European Literature, and premodern Chinese Literature and Thought. She 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 engaged in sinological study as an HSBC fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and as a Yale-China Guizishan fellow at China Central Normal University. Beth will spend her time with the Society publishing her first book on European tragedy and deepening her knowledge of 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. An article from this project has appeared in Shakespeare. Beth’s next 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 contrast to her tragedy book which explores filiation between works, this project will compare precisely that elite canonical poetry that did not travel beyond its own cultural sphere.


2020: “Do not allow an empty goblet to face the moon”: wine cups, male identity and immortality in Li Bai 李白 (701-762)and Du Fu 杜甫 (712-770), forthcoming in “Contact Zones: Fur/Flesh/Fabric/Fieldstone” postmedieval Special Issue, February 2020.

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

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

Conferences and Invited Talks

“Christian Mysticism, Platonism and the Zhuangzi: first contacts and collisions”, Contemporary Philosophy in East Asia (CPEA) Conference, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan. 9-11th August 2018.

“East-West Theories of Tragedy: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Ji Junxiang’s  The Orphan of Zhao (Zhao shi gu’er 趙氏孤兒),  China Central Normal Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Wuhan, P.R.C.  27th June 2018.

“Enduring embodiments: lyrical afterlives in China and the West”, the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Utrecht University, the Netherlands. 6th-9th July 2017.

‘“Let this chalice pass from me”’: the lament of the sacrificial child in Greek tragedy and beyond’, ACLA, Harvard University, USA. 19th March 2016.

“Filial sacrifice and the dark heart of sacred tragedy”, An Honourable Death Interdisciplinary Conference, Birkbeck College, London. Saturday 9th May, 2015.

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