Meet our graduates: Shuangyi Li
The winner of this year’s Anna Balakian Prize is a three-time Edinburgh graduate who completed his PhD in French in 2015 and is now a Swedish Research Council Research Fellow at Lund University.
Originally from the People’s Republic of China, Shuangyi Li first came to the University of Edinburgh in 2006 to do an MA (Hons) degree in French and English Literature.
By the time he left Scotland in 2015, he had completed an MSc in General/Comparative Literature and a PhD in French, both (like his undergraduate degree) in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).
Earlier this year, Shuangyi’s first monograph, Proust, China and Intertextual Engagement: Translation and Transcultural Dialogue (Palgrave, 2017), which was largely based on his doctoral thesis, won the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) Anna Balakian Prize for the best book in the field of Comparative Literature published in the last three years by a scholar under 40.
We caught up with Shuangyi on a brief stopover in Edinburgh to film a video for our new MSc in Intermediality as he was travelling to Queen’s University Belfast to speak at the ‘Chinese Traits, Francophone Lines’ conference.
Tapping into a vast educational network
Asked what appealed about Edinburgh, Shuangyi reflected on its status as a “well-connected capital, literary city and UNESCO World Heritage Site [with a] vibrant international community.”
He thrived on having two supervisors from different subject areas within LLC: Marion Schmid (Professor of French Literature and Film) and Joachim Gentz (Chair of Chinese Philosophy and Religion), relishing their “world leading expertise in their subject areas” and being “really influenced by their manifest sense of commitment to both teaching and research.”
When he moved to Lund University as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2017, his diverse background set his application apart. “At the time, the institution was looking for someone whose research background and project had a ‘decidedly international outlook’. I think the variety of courses and the exchange programmes I participated in at LLC - from studying German language and literature in my pre-honours undergraduate years, and spending my Year Abroad in Belgium, to winning a postgraduate award to go on a research exchange programme at the École Normale Supérieure - really prepared me to match such a job description”.
“Although I was always affiliated to the University of Edinburgh all those years, the vast educational network [I could tap into] through LLC helped me to reach out internationally and strengthen my professional CV.”
A positive, encouraging, and productive learning community
Towards the end of his first postdoctoral research fellowship at Lund, Shuangyi won a three-year research grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) for his current project on Franco-Chinese literature and visual arts (2019-22).
The scheme is open to all researchers at Swedish universities who hold a PhD, so is extremely competitive, like many of the accolades that Shuangyi has picked up over the years.
All the same, he is deeply committed to building community and collegiality, praising his Edinburgh peers for always being keen to “organise learning and peer help activities”, and advising new students to “get involved in all sorts of learning activities initiated by students themselves. Try to play an active role in building a positive, encouraging, and productive learning community that would benefit everyone, and most of all, yourself!”
We are very grateful that he has kept in touch with us over the years and will be talking about the benefits of studying Intermediality - Literature, Film and the Arts in Dialogue in our new video (coming in spring 2020).
Are you interested in studying Comparative Literature or Intermediality?
As the first UNESCO World City of Literature, home of the Edinburgh International Festival and a major cultural hub, Edinburgh is the ideal place for the study of Comparative Literature, and of Intermediality, which focuses on the interrelationships between different art forms. We are delighted to offer taught MScs in Comparative Literature and in Intermediality, as well as a PhD in Comparative Literature.