Yunxin Li

Assistant Professor

Yunxin Li received her B.A. and M.A. from Peking University, where she was trained in Chinese classics and classical bibliography. Li earned her doctoral degree from Stanford University, where she specialized in the political, social, and gender histories of early China. Li’s research incorporates archaeological records, comparative perspectives and digital methods to advance our understanding of the past.

At Simmons, Li teaches courses on China, Asia, global history, gender history, and digital humanities. As a teacher, Li hopes to show students the value of cultural diversity and global perspectives. Li strives to help students to process information in a changing world and to express their ideas in writing and speaking.


  • B.A. and M.A., Peking University
  • Ph.D., Stanford University


  • HIST 201 The Dynamics of Japanese History
  • HIST 202 Asia to the Eighteenth Century
  • HIST 203 Power & Culture: East Asia
  • HIST 206 The Rise of Modern China
  • HIST 207 Family, Gender, and Sexuality in Chinese History
  • HIST 362/562 Reforms and Revolutions in Asia
  • HIST 366/566 Digital History

Research/Creative Activities

Li’s research focuses on family-state relations in early China as well as the production of texts and manuscripts. Li’s ongoing book project, based on her doctoral dissertation “The Inner Court and Politics in the Han Empire,” examines the roles of the imperial family, gender, and social networks in Han politics. Combining textual and material evidence, it challenges the historical narratives of the literati who empathized with the outer court bureaucracy.

As a historian interested in the digital transformation of the discipline, Li is also collaborating with other scholars to build a website of structured biographical data, geographic mobility, and social networks in the early Chinese empires.

With an interest in pedagogy and material culture, Li is working on an article on teaching Asian history through archaeology.


Li has published articles in Chinese on the production and transmission of manuscripts in premodern China, such as “Examination of the Complete Books of the Four Storehouses Abstracts, Textual Transmission, and Editions of The Record of the Wu Region” 《吳地記》四庫提要辨析及源流、版本考. Jiangsu difang zhi (Jiangsu Local Chronicles), Dec 2015.

Li published a book review of Allison R. Miller, Kingly Splendor: Court Art and Materiality in Han China (Columbia UP, 2020). The Journal of Asian Studies, Volume 80, Issue 4, November 2021.

Li’s recent work has investigated the intersections of gender, medicine, law, and state power in early China. Her articles include, “Representations of Gender in Early Chinese Medicine: A Prehistory of Fuke,” Bulletin of the Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology, Issue 9 (September 2022), and “Adultery Law and State Power in Early Empires: Han and Rome Compared,” Asian Journal of Law and Society (Forthcoming).

Li’s ongoing book manuscript, tentatively titled “Eternal Scandal: The Inner Court and Politics in the Han Empire,” examines the roles of the imperial family, gender, and social networks in Han politics. It not only questions the existing historiography of the inner court but also discusses why the biased historical memories were perpetuated throughout Chinese history and what the inner court tells us about power in empires.

Yunxin Li in the News

Illustration from the Daoyin tu demonstrating exercises for improving health, as part of the “nourishing life” branch of Chinese medicine

Assistant Professor of History Yunxin Li Examines Gendered Foundations of Ancient Chinese Medicine

In a recent article published in The Bulletin of the Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology, Assistant Professor of History Yunxin Li explores the role of women and gender in the theory and practice of medicine in ancient China. She spoke with us about her research and what she will reflect on during Women’s History Month.

Photo of Yunxin Li

Assistant Professor of History Yunxin Li Receives North Star Collective Fellowship

This spring semester, Professor Yunxin Li is participating in the North Star Collective as a Faculty Fellow. The fellowship offers engagement opportunities for BIPOC faculty members from a variety of New England institutions. Li reflects on how the North Star...