Yunxin Li

Assistant Professor
Faculty member Yunxin Li


(617) 521-2651

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

About Me

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

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

What I Teach

  • 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

My research focuses on family-state relations in early China as well as the production of texts and manuscripts. My ongoing book project, based on my 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, I am 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, I am working on an article on teaching Asian history through archaeology.


I have 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.

I have 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.

My recent work has investigated the intersections of gender, medicine, law, and state power in early China. My 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).

My 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.