Selina Lai-Henderson
Assistant Professor of American Literature and History at Duke Kunshan University

I am a literary scholar and historian, and my work spans 19th and 20th century transnational American studies, comparative race and ethnic studies, and Afro-Asian connections in the context of race, imperialism, and empire. My major intellectual theme revolves around the reception of American writers such as Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, and W.E.B. Du. Bois in China, and how major themes articulated in their body of work are translated in modern and Maoist China.

Current Research Interests

I am currently working on a monograph that explores the historic visits of Hughes (1933) and Du Bois (1936, 1959, and 1962) to Shanghai. It examines the ways in which what they experienced there opened rare platforms for cross-cultural dialogues on race and slavery among African American, Asian American, and Chinese intellectual communities in the U.S. and China at the time. As the earliest African American writers to set foot on Chinese soil, Hughes and Du Bois helped rewrite the public image of African Americans in the Chinese cultural and intellectual imagination. The internationalist perspectives that they obtained from their visits offered them powerful tools to communicate the struggles of black citizenship at home—both in the American South and on the national level—in a global context. Through these sojourns, my research unveils the two writers’ unique, albeit at times conflicting, articulations of a racial consciousness that defied national, geographical, and political boundaries of the color line.


Current Appointments & Affiliations

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