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Paola Zamperini

Associate Professor, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures

Ph.D. Berkeley

Paola Zamperini has a Ph.D. in Chinese Literature and Women and Gender Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. She arrived to Northwestern in Summer 2013 as the founding chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at NU and Associate Professor of Chinese Literature. Her work during the first three years at NU focused on building the new department by recruiting tenure and teaching line faculty; on developing and launching the new courses of studies in Asian humanities at both the undergraduate and the graduate level; and on mentoring undergraduate and graduate students on pre-modern Chinese literature and gender and sexuality studies. She also served as on the board of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, on the Kaplan Institute Council, and as director of the Asian Studies Graduate Cluster, and helped usher in the new ASGC certificate program.

Professor Zamperini was on sabbatical leave in AY 2016-17. In Fall 2016 she began her work as pre-modern China book review editor for the Journal of Asian Studies (; in Winter 2017 she conducted research in Europe. Finally, in Spring 2017 she was a research fellow at the Humanities Research Center of Australian National University in Canberra. During her sabbatical Professor Zamperini worked on three book manuscripts, namely Boudoir Red, Spell Bound, and Clothes That Matter, on late imperial pornography, gambling in Ming and Qing fiction, and sartorial practices in 21st century P.R.C. respectively. She was able to complete the first two manuscripts and a couple of articles during her tenure as a research fellow at the Humanities Center at Australia National University, and also spent time giving lectures on her work in progress in Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and University of Hawaii at Manoa. Whatever little time left she had between lectures and writing sessions, she spent fulfilling her life-long dream of diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Professor Zamperini resumed her regular teaching and advising duties in Fall 2017, and is back serving on the board of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.

In terms of research and teaching, her interests span pre-modern Chinese literature, dream cultures, gender studies, queer theory, Chinese history, fashion studies, Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism, and contemporary Chinese fiction, cinema, and popular culture. To date, she has written and published extensively about prostitution, female suicide, pornography, and spiritual resonance in pre-modern Chinese literature.

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