Department of History

Fei Hsien Wang

  • Assistant Professor, Department of History


  • Ph.D. at University of Chicago, 2012

Contact Information

BH 834


I am a historian of modern China, with a particular interest in how information, ideas, and practices were produced, transmitted, and consumed across different societies. My research has revolved around the relationship between knowledge, commerce, and political authority in modern East Asia, especially China. My current book manuscript, Hunting Pirates in the Middle Kingdom, explores how copyright was understood, appropriated, codified and, most importantly, practiced by Chinese as a new legal doctrine. Drawing upon a wide range of archival sources, personal records, newspapers, and actual books produced at the time, I reveal an unknown and curious history of how Chinese booksellers and authors built their own copyright regime and enforcement to declare ownership, define literary property, and create order in a changing knowledge economy when an effective state power was absent.

My broader research interests also include print culture, gender and domesticity, state building, and consumption in transnational East Asia, especially modern China and  modern Japan. In addition to a side project on female immigrants from Japan who settled in rural Manchuria, I also have long-term interests in the history of MSG (monosodium glutamate) and the politics of home cooking in East Asia.

I am also the co-curator of the “History and the Law” digital project. Supported by the Centre for History and Economics at Cambridge University, this website aims to be a resource for emerging scholars working on law and history. (

Selected Awards

Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Centre for History and Economics and Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

Michael and Ling Markovitz Dissertation Fellowship, the University of Chicago

Von Holst Prize Lectureship in History, the University of Chicago

Bibliographical Society of America Fellowship

Research Interests

  • Modern China
  • history of piracy and intellectual property right
  • history of books, law and economic life
  • history of East Asian housewives

Courses Recently Taught

Chinese Revolutions
Modern China
Shanghai in the Modern World

Publication Highlights

Qikan, chuban yu shehui wenhua bianqian: wusi qianhou de shangwu yinshuguan yu xuesheng zazhi (ŠúŠ§�A�o”Åäo�И𕶉»�Ì‘J:ŒÜ�l‘OŒã“I�¤–±ˆó�‘ŠÙäo�s›{�¶è¶���t, Periodicals, Publishing, and Socio-cultural Transformation:Commercial Press and "Students' Magazine" during May Fourth Era) (in Chinese). Taipei: National Chengchi University History Department, 2004. 

"Austrian Studies with Chinese Characteristics? Some Preliminary Observations," co-authored with Ke-chin Hsia, in Global Austria: Austria's Place in Europe and the World, ed. Günter Bischof, Anton Pelinka, and Alexander Smith (New Orleans: University of New Orleans Press, 2011), 282-296.