Wenjin Cui

Associate Professor
Office: Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, Murkland Hall Rm G10E, Durham, NH 03824
Wenjin Cui

I specialize in modern Chinese literature and culture, film studies, and critical theory. Employing various discourses of modernity (e.g. Enlightenment, biopolitics) and the epistemic-comparative lenses of ontological and correlative thinking, my research seeks to situate modern Chinese culture both in the global context of shared modernity and along the axis of its complicated relationship with classical Chinese tradition.

My first book, Lu Xun's Affirmative Biopolitics: Nothingness and the Power of Self-Transcendence (Routledge, 2022), explores an extraordinary case of affirmative biopolitics through the study of Lu Xun (1881–1936), the most prominent cultural figure of 20th century China. Diverging from the Enlightenment-humanist framework in reference to which Lu Xun is commonly interpreted, it demonstrates how his thinking is defined by a naturalistic conception of culture that is best understood in the global context of what Foucault defines as the biological turn of modernity. In comparison to ontologically-grounded modern Western theories of life, it brings to light the deep connection between Lu Xun’s affirmative biopolitics and the epistemic ground of Chinese tradition - what is known as correlative thinking.

Currently I am working on my second book project, which explores the modern transformation of correlative thinking in a broad range of 20th and 21st century Chinese literature, film and art.

I have taught a wide variety of courses, including modern Chinese literature and film, introduction to Chinese culture, literary theory and biopolitical discourse, and Chinese language at different levels.


  • Ph.D., East Asian Studies, New York University
  • M.A., Modern Chinese Literature, Peking University
  • B.A., Law, Renmin University of China

Research Interests

  • Aesthetics
  • Asian cinema
  • Biopolitics
  • Comparative Studies of Chinese and Western Thought
  • Critical theory
  • Modern Chinese literature and culture

Courses Taught

  • CHIN 401: Elementary Chinese I
  • CHIN 402: Elementary Chinese II
  • CHIN 425: Intro to Chinese Culture
  • CHIN 503: Intermediate Chinese I
  • CHIN 504: Intermediate Chinese II
  • CHIN 521: What does it Mean to be Modern
  • CHIN 631: Advanced Chinese I
  • CHIN 632: Advanced Chinese II

Selected Publications

Cui, W. (2022). “‘Usefulness without Use,’ Or, the Power of the Virtual: Lu Xun on the Vital Efficacy of Literature”. Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews, (44), 193-225.

Cui, W. (2021). Lu Xun's Affirmative Biopolitics: Nothingness and the Power of Self-Transcendence. Routledge.

Cui, W. (2020). "Waiting and the Duration of Time: The Critique of Everyday Life in Jia Zhangke’s Platform". China Perspectives, 2020(2), 35-42.

Cui, W. (2016). "The 'Symbol of Angst' and the Poetics of Remembrance: Lu Xun and Chinese Literary Modernity". Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, 28(2), 139-182.

Cui, W. (2012). "'Literal Translation' and the Materiality of Language: Lu Xun as a Case". Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, 6(3), 393-409.