Matthew Wells

  • Associate Professor, Early Chinese Literature and Culture
  • Chinese Studies
  • Chinese Studies
  • Modern & Classical Languages Literatures & Cultures
  • Social Theory
1451 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:
Education

Ph.D., Chinese, University of Oregon, 2006

M.A., Asian Studies, University of Oregon, 2001

B.A., History, University of Washington, 1997

 

Biography

Professor Wells received his Ph.D. in Chinese from the University of Oregon in 2006 where he was a student of Dr. Stephen Durrant. Before coming to the University of Kentucky in 2009, Professor Wells taught Asian and world history at Eastern Oregon University.

Professor Wells has lived and worked extensively in China. In 1998-1999, he attended the Central University for Nationalities 中央民族大学 in Beijing, where he studied intensive Chinese language and early Chinese religious history. In 2001-2002, with the support of a Fulbright-Hays dissertation research grant, he studied at Xiamen University 厦门大学 in the Department of Philosophy. In 2005-2006, Dr. Wells worked as a visiting instructor for CET's Service Learning and Chinese Studies program at Capital Normal University 首都师范大学 in Beijing, where he taught courses on art, literature and religion. In 2013 he was a research fellow at Academia Sinica 中央研究院 in Taipei, and in 2016 he was a visiting scholar at National Taiwan University in the Department of Chinese Literature 中國文學系.

In addition, Dr. Wells has given papers at conferences in China, including the 1st International Conference on Ge Hong and Chinese Culture in Ningbo (2003); conducted research in Hangzhou (2007) and Taiwan (2010, 2013, 2015) on topics such as Daoism, historiography, and Chinese language pedagogy; and led the University of Kentucky conversational Chinese program at Shanghai University and Zhejiang University (2011, 2014, 2015). 

When not studying and teaching, Professor Wells enjoys spending time with his wife and menagerie of animals, fly fishing, camping, boxing, reading science fiction, and developing overwrought theories about Doctor Who.

Research

Professor Wells' research interests include life writing (autobiography, biography, and hagiography), Daoism, and early Chinese historiography and literary theory.

He is currently working on a book manuscript on the cultural and intellectual world of Wang Dao 王導 (276-339), the most powerful minister in China's early medieval period. The volume will examine the establishment of the Eastern Jin (318-420) dynasty through Wang Dao's surviving writing and early biographical sources. He is also working on a translation and study of the early Shangqing 上清 Daoist hagiography "Peijun zhuan" 裴君傳. This is a collaborative project with Dr. Jonathan Pettit of Purdue University.

Works in Progress

"The Biography of Lord Pei (Peijun zhuan 裴君傳)." With Jonathan Pettit, Purdue University. Annotated translation and study.

Beyond the Norms of Ritual Propriety: Uncertainty and Imperial Legitimacy During the Eastern Jin Dynasty. Book manuscript.

Graduate Training

M.A., Asian Studies, University of Oregon, 2001. Ph.D., Chinese, University of Oregon, 2006

Selected Publications: 

Monographs

To Die and Not Decay: Autobiography and the Pursuit of Immortality in Early China. Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, 2009.

Refereed Journal Articles, Book Chapters and Essays

“From Spirited Youth to Loyal Official: Life Narrative and Didacticism in the Jinshu Biography of Wang Dao.” Early Medieval China 21 (2015)

“Captured in Words: The Functions and Limits of Autobiographical Expression in Early Chinese Epistolary Literature,” in Handbook of Chinese Letter Writing. Antje Richter, ed. Leiden: Brill Press, 2015.

“Seeing is Believing: Faith, Doubt and Self-Presentation in Ge Hong’s Baopuzi Neipian.” Lifewriting Annual 4 (2014).

“(Mis)conceiving the Self in Early China: Memory and Truth in Early Chinese Autobiographical Writing.” Beating Devils and Burning Their Books, Anthony E. Clark, ed. Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, 2010.

“Self as Historical Artifact: Ge Hong and Early Chinese Autobiography.” Early Medieval China 9 (2004).

Encyclopedia, Sourcebook, and Dictionary Chapters

“Baopuzi,” in Early Medieval Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide. Cynthia L. Chennault, Keith N. Knapp, Alan J. Berkowitz, Albert E. Dien, eds. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, 2014.

“Ge Hong.” Bio-critical article for Dictionary of Literary Biography: Classical Chinese Writers, Pre- Tang Era (-598), ed. Curtis Dean Smith. Columbia, SC: Bruccoli Clark Layman, 2011.

“Ji Kang.” Bio-critical article for Dictionary of Literary Biography: Classical Chinese Writers, Pre- Tang Era (-598), ed. Curtis Dean Smith. Columbia, SC: Bruccoli Clark Layman, 2011.

“Gan Bao.” Bio-critical article for Dictionary of Literary Biography: Classical Chinese Writers, Pre- Tang Era (-598), ed. Curtis Dean Smith. Columbia, SC: Bruccoli Clark Layman, 2011.

 

Awards and Grants

“Teachers Who Made a Difference” Award, University of Kentucky College of Education, 2012

Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant Grant, 2012-2013.

NEH Workshop Fellowship, “An Introduction to Daoist Literature and History.” Director: Terry Kleeman, Associate Professor of Chinese, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2011

University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowship, 2010 (Taibei, Taiwan)

Eastern Oregon University Faculty Scholars Award, 2007 (Hangzhou, PRC).

Center for Asian-Pacific Studies Professional Grant, 2005 (University of Muenster, Germany)

Center for Asian-Pacific Studies Individualized Study Grant, 2003 (Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, PRC)

Center for Asian-Pacific Studies Individualized Study Grant, 2002 (Beijing PRC)

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2001 (Xiamen University, Xiamen, PRC)       

Freeman Foundation Study Abroad Fellowship, 1998 (Central University for Nationalities, Beijing, PRC)

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