Ya Zuo

External Faculty Fellow
Department of History, UC Santa Barbara

Ya Zuo is an associate professor of History at University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a cultural historian of middle and late imperial China. She is the author of Shen Gua’s Empiricism (Harvard University Press, 2018) and a range of articles on subjects such as theory of knowledge, sensory history, medical history, book history, and the history of emotions.

SHC Project

A Thousand Streaks of Tears: Emotion, Identity, and Society in Medieval China (600−1400)

Publications and Projects


Shen Gua’s Empiricism, Harvard University Asia Center, 2018.

Selected Articles: 

“Collecting Tears: Lachrymation and Emotions in the Taiping Collectanea,” Oriens Extremus 59 (2022): 225–279.

“Counting Books by the Juan: Material and Conceptual Aspects of the Chinese Book,” Asia Major 35.1 (2022): 33–73.

“Male Tears in Song China,” Journal of Chinese Studies 73 (2021): 33–79.

“Keeping Your Ear to the Cosmos: Coherence as the Standard of Good Music in the Northern Song (960−1127) Music Reforms,” in Powerful Arguments: Standards of Validity in Late Imperial China, ed. Ari D. Levine, Joachim Kurtz, and Martin Hofmann (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishing, 2020), 277–309.

"Whence Cometh Sad Tears?" article with new media elements, in Fluid Matter(s): Flow and Transformation in the History of the Body, ed. Natalie Köhle and Shigehisa Kuriyama, Asian Studies Monograph Series 14 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 2020).

“Zhang Zai’s (1020–1077) Critique of the Senses,” Journal of Chinese History 3 (2019): 83–111.

“‘Ru’ versus ‘Li’: The Divergence between the Generalist and the Specialist in the Northern Song (960−1127),” Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 44 (2014): 83–137.

Research Groups /Projects: 

Research Focus Group “Emotions in History,” primary investigator, co-directing with Dr. Hongbo Yu in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, UCSB

Ya Zuo

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