Jie Li named Harvard College Professor

Jie Li, Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Fairbank Center Faculty Affiliate, was named a Harvard College Professor in recognition of her “commitment to undergraduate teaching,” the Harvard Gazette announced this month.

To many, Professor Li is best known for teaching her popular General Education course, East Asian Cinema, which has enrolled as many as 170 students per semester. About her East Asian Cinema students, Li told the Gazette, “a lot of them are musicians, actors, and script writers. They pool their talents in this class and admire each other’s talents. I really like combining both this analytical and creative dimension.”

“It’s wonderful to see the amount of talent at this University,” Li said.

Smartphones in hand, students in East Asian Cinema each semester are charged with replicating the cinematographic techniques of the filmmakers they study. At the end of the semester, Professor Li and her teaching fellows judge the films through the “Golden Monkey Awards,” which honor student work.

Professor Li’s Harvard College Professorship, a title she will hold for five years, will offer her support in the form of a summer salary, research funds, or semester-long paid leave. She is one of five professors across the College to receive the honor this year.

“I am delighted to recognize these five colleagues for their contributions to undergraduate teaching, their work in graduate education and research, and their mentorship and support of students,” said Hopi Hoekstra, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “I am enormously grateful to these colleagues for their extraordinary commitment to our students and our teaching mission.”

For Professor Li, it’s come full circle. She earned her A.B. in East Asian Studies from Harvard College in 2001 and her Ph.D. in modern Chinese literature and film studies from Harvard in 2010. Now, her alma mater has recognized her for her work on the other side of the lectern.