Thomas P. Kelly

Thomas P. Kelly

Assistant Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Tom Kelly photo

Thomas Kelly is a scholar of late imperial Chinese literature. His research attends to the interplay between the literary imagination and Chinese visual and material cultures in the early modern period. He is currently completing a monograph that examines practices of inscribing everyday objects in late Ming and early Qing China. The book considers how prominent writers spoke through things, exploring new modes of literary impersonation, commercial branding, and political expression. He has related interests in the history of writing technologies, text-image relations, Chinese theater, and premodern media studies.

Professor Kelly received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2017 and BA from the University of Oxford in 2009. Before joining Harvard, he was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan. His research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Franke Institute for the Humanities. 

Selected Publications:

“The Death of an Artisan: Su Shi and Inkmaking,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (forthcoming).

“Paper Trails: Fang Yongbin (1542–1608) and the Material Culture of Calligraphy,” Journal of Chinese History 中國歷史學刊, 3.2 (July 2019), Special Issue on Material Cultures.

“Putting on a Play in an Underworld Courtroom: the “Mingpan” (Infernal Judgment) Scene in Tang Xianzu’s Mudan ting (Peony Pavilion),” CHINOPERL: Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature 32.2 (December 2013): 131–155.

Review of Design by the Book: Chinese Ritual Objects and the Sanli tu, by François Louis, East Asian Publishing and Society Vol. 8, Issue 1 (2018): 99–103.

Contact Information

2 Divinity Ave, Room 230
EALC, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138
Spring 2023: Wednesday 1-3 or by appointment


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