UCL News


Spotlight on... Dr Christine “Xine” Yao

29 October 2020

This week we meet Dr Christine “Xine” Yao, Lecturer in American Literature, who was recently named as one of this year’s ‘New Generation Thinkers’ by the BBC and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Dr Christine “Xine” Yao

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am Lecturer in American Literature to 1900 in the English department. I research race, gender, affect, and sexuality in early and nineteenth century American literature, with occasional forays into history of medicine and science. I also have the honor of teaching our wonderful students in the BA, MA, and PhD degree programmes. 

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I am starting my third year! I moved across the pond to join UCL from my SSHRC postdoc at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. 

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

My forthcoming first academic monograph, Disaffected: The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth-Century America! Duke University Press has published many of the greatest influences on my development as a scholar so it is a dream come true to work with them. 

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

Currently I am juggling an essay about gender variant and non-binary bodies in literature before our contemporary understanding of transness, alongside the shift to online teaching in order to do the best we can for our students. Throughout this work I have been reflecting on the ways in which the resurgence of Black Lives Matter can inform my research and teaching.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Favorite album: music snobs will turn up their noses but truthfully I will always have a soft spot for Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory
Favorite film: my longest film obsession was Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Favorite novel: that’s an impossible question for someone who works on literature!

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

A Higgs Boson particle walks into a church. The Priest asks, “What are you doing here?” The Higgs Boson particle says, “You can’t have mass without me!” 

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Padma Lakshmi and scholar Michael Twitty for their insights into the complicated histories of food tied to race, class, and gender – and because of our shared passion for the pleasures of food.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Have more fun, be happy, wear glitter.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

My family gave me a sword for my BA and the scabbard for my PhD. 

What is your favourite place?

Wherever my friends are.