Haun Saussy

University Professor, Department of Comparative Literature
WB 412

Special Interests

Classical Chinese poetry and commentary; literary theory; comparative study of oral traditions; problems of translation; pre-twentieth-century media history; ethnography and ethics of medical care.
Professor Saussy joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2011. He received his B.A. (Greek and Comparative Literature) from Duke University and his M.Phil and Ph.D from Yale (Comparative Literature); between undergraduate and graduate schools, he studied linguistics and Chinese in Paris. He has previously taught at UCLA, Stanford, Yale, the City University of Hong Kong, the Université de Paris-III, and the University of Otago (New Zealand). He was president (2009-2011) of the American Comparative Literature Association. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Faculty Advisory Boards for two new initiatives at the University of Chicago: the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society and the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, as well as of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.

An avid cyclist, he discovered that long road trips favor the memorization of verb paradigms and lyric poetry, which happen to be two of his main intellectual interests. His first book, The Problem of a Chinese Aesthetic (Stanford, 1993), discussed the tradition of commentary that has grown up around the early Chinese poetry collection Shi jing (known in English as the Book of Songs), finding in that tradition a basis for examining questions of intercultural hermeneutics, the theory of figural language, and the relation between literature and philosophy. His second book, Great Walls of Discourse and Other Adventures in Cultural China (Harvard University Asia Center, 2001), an account of the ways of knowing and describing specific to China scholarship, Chinese as well as foreign. With Kang-i Sun Chang, he edited Chinese Women Poets, An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism from Ancient Times to 1911 (Stanford, 1999); other edited collections include Comparative Literature in an Era of Globalization (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), Sinographies: Writing China (with Steven Yao and Eric Hayot; University of Minnesota Press, 2005), Chinese Walls in Time and Space (with Roger des Forges, Chiao-mei Liu and Gao Minglu; Cornell Asia Center, 2009), Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader (University of California Press, 2010), and Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics (with Perry Meisel; Columbia University Press, 2011). Together with César Dominguez and Darío Villanueva, he wrote Introducing Comparative Literature (London: Routledge, 2015). With then-graduate students Jonathan Stalling and Lucas Klein, he produced a critical edition of The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry, by Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound (Fordham University Press, 2008). Articles published in journals and collections touch on topics such as the imaginary universal languages of Athanasius Kircher, Chinese musicology, the great Qing-dynasty novel Honglou meng, the current situation and theoretical perplexities of comparative literature, the history of the idea of oral literature, Haitian poetry, health care for the global poor, and contemporary art. With a collective of artists led by Mel Chin, he contributed to the design of some sixty sculptural installations for the new public and university library of San Jose, California. His next book, The Ethnography of Rhythm: Orality and Its Technologies (New York: Fordham University Press, 2016; awarded the Scaglione Prize by the MLA), discussed the history of the concept of oral literature through its relations to psychology, linguistics, literature and folklore. Also in 2016, A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden): Selected Writings of Li Zhi, edited and translated with Rivi Handler-Spitz and Pauline Chen Lee, appeared from Columbia University Press. In 2017 Translation as Citation: Zhuangzi Inside Out, was published by Oxford University Press, and 2018 should see the publication of When the Pipirite Sings: Selected Poems of Jean Métellus (Northwestern University Press) and Texts and Transformations (Cambria Press). 

Personal web site: http://www.printculture.com.