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Profile: David Porter

Title: Professor and Department Chair
Ph.D., Stanford  1996

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3219C AH







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Research Interests

Primary Interests

I have been working for many years on the problem of how to think China and England together in the eighteenth century and early modern period. My first book, Ideographia, explored various patterns that seemed to shape European responses to Chinese cultural achievements in language, religion, the arts, and trade between 1600 and 1800.  

My second book, The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth Century England, focused more specifically on the remarkable assimilation of Chinese aesthetic ideas within English literature, gardening, and decorative arts, with special attention to the gendered dimensions of this response.  My current book project, a comparative study of literary trends in China and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, has involved excursions into world literature, translation theory, comparative political and economic history, and Ming dynasty philosophy.

Secondary Interests

Modernism, literature of exile, internet culture, travel literature, gender studies, Chinese language software


The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge University Press, 2010)
Ideographia: The Chinese Cipher in Early Modern Europe (Stanford University press, 2001)
Internet Culture (editor, Routledge, 1997)
Between Men and Feminism (editor, Routledge, 1992)
Selected Articles
“Sinicizing Early Modernity: The Imperatives of Historical Cosmopolitanism” (Eighteenth-Century Studies 2010)
“Democracy or Bust:  Why our Knowledge about What the Chinese Lack is Really No Knowledge at All” (in China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance, 2009)
"China is Not a Foreign Country: The Promises and Perils of Cross-Cultural Comparison" (Michigan Quarterly Review 2008)
"Taihu Tatlers: Aesthetic Translation in the China Trade" (Batchelor and Kaplan, eds., Women and Material Culture: 1660-1830, Palgrave, 2007)
"'Beyond the Bounds of Truth: Cultural Translation and William Chambers' Chinese Garden" (Mosaic 2004)
"A Wanton Chase in a Foreign Place: Hogarth and the Gendering of Chinese Exoticism" (Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 2004)
"Monstrous Beauty: Eighteenth-Century Fashion and the Aesthetics of the Chinese Taste" (Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2002)
"A Peculiar but Uninteresting Nation: China and the Discourse of Commerce in Eighteenth-Century England" (Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2000)
"Rethinking the Aesthetic in the Century of Taste (Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2000)
Chinoiserie and the Aesthetics of Illegitimacy" (Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 1999)
"From Chinese to Goth: Walpole and the Gothic Repudiation of Chinoiserie" (Eighteenth-Century Life, 1999)
"The Poetics of Misogyny in Jean de Meun's Discourse of Nature" (Mediaevalia, 1998)
"Writing China: Legitimacy and Representation 1606-1773" (Comparative Literature Studies, 1996)
"His Master's Voice: The Politics of Narragenitive Desire in The Tempest" (Comitatus,1993)
  • Comparative Early Modernities: 1100-1800
  • The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England

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