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Nathaniel Isaacson

Assoc Professor

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

Withers Hall 208


Nathaniel is an Associate Professor of Modern Chinese literature and cultural studies. His research interests include Chinese science fiction, Chinese cinema, and popular culture.


Nathaniel has also had articles on the history of Chinese science fiction appear in the Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures, the journal Science Fiction Studies, and Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).

Extension and Community Engagement

Translator, World Chinese Science Fiction website newsletter, 2011-present.

Panelist, University of Iowa International Programs Radio Show, Global Canvass, Spring 2012.


Director, Chinese Language Program and Chinese Minor, NCSU Foreign Languages and Literature, 2011-Present

World Literature Committee, NCSU, 2012-present

Asian Studies Committee, NCSU, 2011-present

International Programs Committee, NCSU. 2011-present

Adjunct Faculty, Duke University Asian Pacific Studies Institute 2012-present

NCSU Confucius Institute Advisory Board, 2011-present

Office Hours

  • Mon: 10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
  • Wed: 10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Research Publications

  • Celestial Empire: the Emergence of Chinese Science Fiction. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2017.
  • “Orientalism, Scientific Practice and Popular Culture in Late Qing China.” Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures, ed. Carlos Rojas and Andrea Bachner. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • “Blurred Visions of Nation and State in Tong Enzheng’s Death Ray on a Coral Island.” Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema, ed. Jennifer Feely and Sarah A. Wells.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.
  • Review of Visions of Dystopia in China’s New Historical Novels, by Jeffrey Kinkley (Columbia University Press, 2015). H-Asia book reviews (online).
  • Review of Tales of Future Past: Anticipation and the Ends of Literature in Contemporary China. (Stanford University Press). Modern Chinese Literature and Culture.
  • “SF for the Nation: Tales of the Moon Colony and the Birth of Modern Chinese Fiction.” Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 40, No. 119, March, 2013, 33-54.
  • Author profile of Chen Ran.  In: Dictionary of Literary Biography vol. 370Chinese Fiction Writers: 1950-200. Detroit: Gale Cengage, 2013.  29-35.
  •  (Translator). Hao Jingfang, “Invisible Planets” (Kan bujian de xingqiu). The Sound of Salt Forming: Short Fiction From China’s post-1980 Generation, ed. Geng Song. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • (Translator). Li Shijiang, “The Hospital” (Yiyuan). Chinese Literature Today, Vol. 4, no. 2, 2014, 44-53.
  • (Translator). Yangzi, “As Night Fell it Began to Rain,” and “The Flowers Beneath the Overpass.” Pathlight: New Chinese Writing, No. 3 Dec, 2012.
  • (Translator). Xu Nianci, “New Tales of Mr. Braggadocio” (Xin faluo xiansheng tan). Renditions, 77&78, Fall 2011, 15-38
  • (Translator). Han Song, “The Passengers and the Creator” (Chengke yu chuangzaozhe). Renditions, 77&78, Fall 2011, 144-172.
  • (Translator). Lu Xun, “Lessons From the History of Science” (Kexue shi jiao pian). Renditions, 74, Fall, 2010, 80-99.

Funded Research

CHASS Research and Exchange Programs Development Ambassador to Universities in China. North Carolina State University. Summer, 2013.

Summer Research Stipend, 2012.

UCLA Distinguished Teaching Assistant, 2010

UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship, 2010


Roundtable organizer and presenter. Science Fiction Research Association Annual Conference . Paper title: “The Automation of Affect.” SUNY Stonybrook, June 2015.

Panelist. Workshop on Yan Lianke’s Fiction. “Yan Lianke’s Incomplete Myth.” Duke University, April 2015.

Panelist. American Comparative Literature Association. “Where Did Chinese Science Fiction Go?” ACLA Seattle, March 2015.

Invited Presenter. Science As Knowledge, Ideal and Practice in 20th C. China. “Getting Nowhere on the Way to Utopia: Xiaoran Yusheng’s Journey to Utopia.” Charles University, Prague, November 2014.

Panelist, Duke University Author’s Workshop on Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures.  April, 2014

Panelist and Panel Chair, National Conference of Association for Asian Studies. “Contested Boundaries of Science and Science Fiction in Modern China,” March 2014

Panelist and Panel Chair: National Conference of Association for Asian Studies. ”East Asian Utopias and Dystopias,” March 2013

Invited Speaker: Wesleyan University Enzheng Tong Memorial Lecture Series, “Media and Messages: Blurred Visions of Nation and State in Enzheng Tong’s ‘Death Ray on a Coral Island.’” February, 2012

Panelist: National Conference of Association of Asian Studies. “Science Fiction, Colony, Canon: Tales of the Moon Colony and the history of modern Chinese fiction,” March 2012

Panelist, Visions of the Future: Global Science Fiction Cinema Conference, “Media and Messages: Blurred Visions of Nation and State in Tong Enzheng’s ‘Death Ray on a Coral Island,” February, 2012

Panelist: Duke University Triangle China Forum, “Revisiting the Body: Corporeal Imaginations from Late Imperial to Contemporary China,” November 2011

Panel Organizer and Panelist: National Conference of Association of Asian Studies

“Mr. Science at the Writing Desk: Science Fiction, Adventure, and Utopia in Modern Chinese Literature,” April, 2011

Panelist: Western Conference of the Association of Asian Studies (WCAAS) “New Story of the Stone: Chinese Science Fiction and the Imperial Impulse,” October, 2009

Translator: “Lessons From the History of Science” (Kexue shi jiao pian, Lu Xun, 1902) Fudan University Summer Workshop in Scholarly Translation, Shanghai.  September, 2009 

Conference Co-organizer, Discussant and Panelist: “China Undisciplined,” UCLA Graduate Student Conference, May, 2008 and 2009


Ph.D. Modern Chinese Literature University of California, Los Angeles 2010

Area(s) of Expertise

Academic and research interests include Late Qing through contemporary Chinese literature and cultural studies, especially science fiction and cinema.