Xin Qu

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DPhil Student

Keble College

Thesis: Writing Fiction, Writing China: An Ethnography of Creative Writing

Research: What does an anthropologist do? Clifford Geertz’s surprising answer is: ‘He writes.’ As an anthropologist-in-training who is also a novelist manqué, I am very taken with the possible parallels between anthropology and literature that can build on Geertz’s comment. With a literary thread running through this entire doctoral project, I expect to grapple with the social, political, economic and linguistic dimensions of creative writing online and offline in China through the lens of anthropology. I hope to answer anthropologically one or some literary question(s). My research walks the disciplinary border between anthropology and literature, working to theoretically disentangle the love-hate relationship between the two subjects. Methodologically, I cannot avoid a critical engagement with either the enduring tension between creative and ethnographic writing or the mounting qualm of anthropologist-as-writer after the writing culture debate. Both are of equal importance to my doctoral studies.

Research interests: literary anthropology, linguistic anthropology, anthropology of art, anthropology of reading/writing, creative/digital labour, digital ethnography, book history, intellectual history, folklore, ethnographic fiction, creative writing