Natascha Gentz

Chair of Chinese Studies


Natascha Gentz (Vittinghoff), was appointed Chair of Chinese Studies  in 2006, and is  founding Director of the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh and was  Head of Department of Asian Studies from 2007 - 2010. She became Dean International China in 2008 and now is Assistant Principal China since 2015 . In 2010 she was awarded as Honorary Fellow of the 48 Club (The Icebreakers) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2014. She served as member of the sub panel Area Studies for the REF 2014 and has been reappointed for REF 2021 for Criteria Panel and Assessment Panel 25. She is executive board member of a number of organisations, including the Scotland China Education Network, AREA RUHR Advisory Board (Bochum) and SWIRE Chinese Centre for Excellence. 

Natascha Gentz took her MA (1994) and PhD (1998) degrees at Heidelberg University, Germany.  Her studies included residences at Fudan University, Shanghai (1988-1990), Renmin University, Beijing (1995-6), and Tokyo University and The University of Hong Kong  (1996 and 1997). After a  Post-Doc position at the University of Goettingen 1998-2000 funded  by the VW Foundation, she  moved on to do a independent research project funded by the  German Research Foundation (2000-2002), while also having teaching fellowships in the Chinese departments at Heidelberg and Göttingen University.  In 2002 she was appointed as Junior Professor at Frankfurt University, from where she came to Edinburgh. 

Her publications include a monograph on the history of modern Chinese journalism in the context of transcultural negotiations of the  colonial empire and two edited volumes, on global  knowledge transfer in Late Qing China  and on how global media are shaping cultural identities today. 

Her research also includes the study of Chinese historical and contemporary drama and she loves translating if time permits - among her published translations are a novel and two volumes of short stories by the Chinese Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian. Keen on engaging with the  wider community she has organised a variety of  China related cultural events, ranging from an ward winning NGO Fringe Festival drama perfomances by female migrant workers , to  celebrity writers participating in the international  film/book festivals. 

Responsibilities & affiliations


  • Assistant Principal, China 
  • Director of the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh
  • Research Officer Asian Studies



  • Royal Society of Edinburgh, International Committee (2016 -)
  • AREA Ruhr Advisory Board (Bochum), (2015 - )
  • PhD Selection Committee, Hanban (2015 -
  • AcademiaNet (2015 - )
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh, Sectional Committee (2014 – )
  • Editorial Board Member of International Communication of Chinese Culture (2014 - )
  • Editorial Board BACS Journal (2012 - )
  • British Academy East Asia Panel Member (2012 - 2017 )
  • UK HEFCE REF Area Studies Sub panel member (2011 - 2014)
  • Board member of the China Universities Committee London (UCCL) (2006-2009)
  • Board member of the British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS) (2009 – 2012)
  • Editorial Board of The China Quarterly (2010 - )
  • Editorial Board Zhongguo xueshu (2004 – 2010)
  • Editorial Board Journal of the British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS) (2011 - )
  • German-American Frontiers of Humanities (GAFOH, American Philosophical Society (APS) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation)
  • Association of Asian Studies (AAS)
  • European Association of Chinese Studies (EACS)
  • Deutsche Vereinigung für China Studien (DVCS)
  • Member of the German Academic Exchange Programme (DAAD) Selection Committee (2005)
  • Member of the Review Committee of the European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS) (2004)


  • Universities Scotland China Group (2014 - )
  • Scotland China Business Forum (2014 – )
  • Scottish Government China Plan Stakeholder Group (2012 - )
  • British Council China Group (2009 – 2010)
  • Scotland School Strategy China Group, Scottish Government (2010- 2012)
  • 48 Group Club in Scotland Advisory Committee (2010 - )
  • RZSS Giant Panda Learning Advisory Group (2011 - )
  • Director of the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh (2006 - )
  • Vice Chairman of the Scotland China Chamber of Commerce (2009 - 2010 )
  • Scottish Cross Party Parliament Group China (2009 - )
  • UoE Intl Strategy Executive Group member (2008 - )
  • Board member of Language, Linguistics and Area Studies (LLAS) (2008 - )
  • Board member of the Scotland China Educational Network (SCEN) (2008 - )

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Hoi-To Wong - British Colonial Publishing in East Asia: Kelly & Walsh in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth CenturiesWang Yiran - The Cultural and Academic Transition Experiences of International Students in China and the UK

Keung Hiu Man -  A Study on antouju by Modern Chinese Female Playwrights, 1922-1949

Robert Zipeng Li - Online News Discussion: A Chance to Influence Public Policy Making in China? A Case Study of Tianjin Explosion Incident

Piotr Krzysztof  Strzalkowski - Red Scare in China: Caricatures, Anti-Communist Propaganda, and the Foreign-Press in Interwar Shanghai 1924-1937.

Avina Avital - Visual Grammar of the Chinese Cultural Revolution Posters and Messages Concerning Female Perpetrated Violence

Wang Ziying - Constructist Approach to understanding Global City ---- Shenzhen: From 1992 to the Present

Stephanie Cheuk Wong -  Sanguo yanyi’s canonising process over centuries


Past PhD students supervised


Ji Lingjie - Translating “Literature”: Western literature in Late-Qing China, 1807-1895

Gu Tian - Tragic Concepts and Artistic Manifestations between Chinese and Western Classical Literature


Wang Shuman - Investigating BBC’s and FT’s Online News Portals’ Operations in China Through Comparison between Their Chinese and English Online News Portals


Lara Arnason - The Global Player: Public Discourse, Law and Practice of Online Gaming in China


Cui Ying - Representations of Chinese Migrant Workers in Local Newspapers

Sun Xiaoyi - Chinese Popular Women Lifestyle TV Shows in Comparative Perspective


Jie Xiaowei - Television in a Reformed China: A Case Study of the New Years Shows in the Reform Era



Zheng Ji -  Nationalism, consumerism, and the stardom in Shanghai in Republican China


Wei Zhou - Peony in Bloom: Pai Hsien-yung and the Conservation of Chinese Kunqu Opera


Meng Pei - The Politics and Practice of Transculturation:  Chinese Autobiographic Narratives Crossing Into English


Shim Tae-shik - Zhu Guangqian's Poetic Theory




Research summary

Generally speaking Professor Gentz is interested in the processes of cultural exchanges between China and other cultures and nations in texts and media as well as modern literature and drama.

She has written on the history of Chinese media, the global transfer of scientific knowledge in the 19th and early 20th century, modern Chinese historical drama and contemporary literature and also translated works by the first Chinese nobel laureate Gao Xingjian.

She is currently writing a book on the introduction of tragedies to Chinese stages, discussions on this "foreign" concept and its integration into modern drama discourse; and on press law discourses in Late Qing China.

In Edinburgh Professor Gentz will further develop the field of modern and historical Chinese media studies and knowledge transfer studies.

Knowledge exchange

Research Leave

From Sept 2012 to August 2013 Natascha Gentz was on research leave, spending five months at the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF) in Erlangen, from November 2012 to April 2013.

Research Collaborations

  • 2006 - present: Chinese Encyclopedias. D5 Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context: Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows" at Heidelberg University.
  • 2004 - present: Akteure der kulturellen Globalisierung, 1860 - 1930 (Actors of cultural globalisation), Berlin, Wissenschaftskolleg (DFG).
  • 2002 - 2003: The Birth of Tragedy in China Global Negotiations of a Local Genre (DFG).
  • 1999 - 2000: Chinese Technical Terms- Western Knowledge and Lexical Change in Late Imperial China (VW Foundation).
  • 1996 - 1998: Transformation of European Expansion - The Chinese Language Press in Shanghai (DFG).

View all 13 publications on Research Explorer


  • “Fate, Freedom and Will in Late Qing Discourse on “Chinese Tragedies", International Consortium for the Study of Humanities, Erlangen, 22 January 2013


  • “Revisiting the 'New' and 'Foreign' in Late Qing Chinese Journalism", presented at the conference From Qing to China: Rethinking the Interplay of Tradition and Modernity, 1860-1949, Tel Aviv University, 20-22 May 2012.


  • “The Transformation of the Public Sphere in Late Imperial and Modern China", China Seminar Series, University of Nottingham, 15 November 2011
  • “Historical semantic reading of visual representations of Jiang Qing on propaganda posters”, BACS annual conference, Edinburgh, 7-9th of September 2011
  • “A Conversation with Wang Hui: Contemporary Chinese Thought”, Continental Shifts Lecture Series, Edinburgh International Festival, 29th August 2011.
  • “Ying Lianzhi and the founding of the Tianjin Dagongbao”, Treaty Ports in Modern China, University of Bristol, 7-8th July 2011. Also Chair and final round table discussant.
  • Invited Panel commentator and final round table discussant at Gender and Transcultural Production: Chinese Women’s Journals in their global context, 1900-2000, SOAS London, 13-15th May, 2011.
  • “Early Chinese student migration and the politics of maintaining boundaries”, Third European Congress on World and Global History, LSE, 14th-17th April 2011.
  • “Chinese Press Laws in 19th century - regulating public communication, invited lecture for China Studies group, University of Aberdeen, March 1st, 2011.


  • “The Emergence of Modern Chinese Literature and Drama Studies as a Discipline”, Symposium on Modern Chinese Literature, Oxford University, 4th November 2010.
  • Discussant at the international forum Zhongwen jiaoyu de guoqu, xianzai yu weilai, Peking University, 24th October 2010.
  • “The Shenbao and the politics of “fair public discussion” in the transnational context of Late Qing China”, International Symposium on the Cooperation among Libraries for East Asian Resources and Chinese Newspaper Digitalization, Green Apple, Changsha, October 2010.
  • “Rules vs Rumours: The politics of rightful communication in Late Qing China”, The Power of information in shaping Chinese Modernity: a historical investigation from the Late Qing to Early Republican, Royal Holloway University London, September 2010.
  • “Keyword of Chinese Modernity”, International workshop “Chinese Modern Culture”, with Peking University, Taiwan National University, Hongkong Chinese University, Edinburgh University, August 2010.
  • “Early Chinese Student Migration and the Politics of Maintaining Boundaries”, Globalisation in Historical Perspective: Actors, Arts and Artefacts”, Edinburgh University, May 2010, in collaboration with Humboldt University and FU Berlin.


  • “Confucianism and the Modern World” invited talk for Morningside Peace Group.
  • “The Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian” Invited talk for the Scotland China Association.
  • “Clashes with the court: legal conflicts for printers, publishers and journalists in Late Qing China” Intl Conference on Global Publishing in Honkong and Shanghai, Hongkong, Nov 2009.
  • “Opening Pandora’s Box: Repercussions of the Cultural Revolution in contemporary China”, Lecture series China@60, University of Edinburgh, Nov 2009.
  • “May Fourth and the Birth of Chinese Drama Theory”, Keynote Lecture at Intl Conference on The May Fourth Movement and Chinese Modern and Contemporary Literature, May Fourth Conference, Peking, April, 2009.
  • “Chinese Media concepts in historical perspective”, Invited lecture for seminar series at Manchester, Centre for Chinese Studies, February 2009.


  • “Talking to the World”, Chair of the media panel, Edinburgh Lecture Series, University of Edinburgh, 27th Oct, 2008.
  • “Coming to terms with new concepts: translingual practice in China and Japan” Keynote lecture at 11th Annual International Conference on Conceptual History: Global-Historical Diffusion of Western Concepts and the Transformation of Northeast Asian Regional Orde, Seoul National University, Sep. 18-19, 2008.
  • Chair of “Focus on China”sessions at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, August, 2008.
  • “Good News Bad Stories: Changing conceptions of “News Values” in Chinese Media Theory” Annual Conference of EACS, Lund, August 2008.
  • “From News (xinwen) to New Knowledge (xinxue): Newspapers as Sources for Early Modern Encyclopaedias”, AAS annual meeting, CHINA AND INNER ASIA SESSION 198, 3-6 April 2008, Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, GA.


  • “Chinese media concepts in a historical perspective” invited by The University of Cambridge Department of East Asian Studies, 12 November 2007, Cambridge
  • „Die chinesische Presse der Jahrhundertwende im internationalen Kontext“, Symposium der Goettinger Akademie der Wissenschaften Ausgewaehlte Kulturphaenomene um 1900 im internationalen Kontext, 19-20 January 2007.


  • “From Tears to Tragedy and Trauerspiel (beiju) in Chinese Drama” Intl Conference: Paths Towards Modernity: Conference on the Occasion of the centenary of Jaruslav Prusek, Prague, 12-15th October, 2006.
  • Gao Xingjian und die Bücher eines einsamen Nobelpreisträgers, East Asia Seminar of the University of Göttingen, 13. July 2006.
  • The Birth of Chinese Tragedy: global ramifications of a local genre, IIAS Network, Amsterdam, 24 April, 2006.
  • “Civilised drama” (wenmingxi) reconsidered: The birth of Sino-Japanese tragedies in Late Qing China, lecture on the Annual Association for Asian Studies, April 4-7, 2006. Chair of the panel: China and its Japanese Other
  • Invited to the International Workshop on Early Modern Chinese Encyclopedias 1894-1911: Changing Chinese Ways of Thought in Response to the West and Japan”, Milena Dolezelova-Velingerova, April, Heidelberg


  • “!New models for old Missions: The transformation of men-of-letters into professional journalists in 19th century China,” invited to 2nd Annual German-American Frontiers of Humanities Symposium (GAFOH), sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) and the U.S. American Philosophical Society (APS), Hamburg, 20.-23. October 2005.
  • “The Pleasure of Sadness: tragic passions in transcultural performances in Late Qing China” invited by „China Seminar“ of Sinology Department, Leiden University, 28. September 2005.
  • „Zwischen Kunst und Kulisse: Zur Entstehung des modernen chinesischen Theaters auf den Bühnen Pekings, Tokyos und Shanghais“, invited by the German China Society, Köln, 16. June 2005
  • “The birth of tragedy in China and Japan: Explorations into the Invention and Demise of a Genre in Chinese Drama History”, Public lecture in the context of the research colloquium, Sinologie Frankfurt, 2 February, 2005.


  • „The Cultural Revolution in the Internet: A Revolution of Cultural Memory?“, European Association for Chinese Studies, Heidelberg 25-27 August 2004.
  • „The birth of tragedy in China”, Intl. Conference: Cultural Migrations in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 23-24. August 2004, Sinology Frankfurt.
  • „Habermas in China”, »Chinaforschung - Chinabilder - Chinabezüge invited by Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität“, 8.-11. July 2004, Sinology Frankfurt.
  • „Transformation of the Chinese Public Sphere in 19th and Early 20th century China“, invited by Jürgen Osterhammel and Jürgen Kocka to the Int’l. Conference, "The Course of Modernization in the Countries and Regions of East Asia. Temporal Patterns in the 29th Century. Beijing, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, April 7-9th, 2004.
  • „The New in the Nineteenth Century Chinese Newspapers: Actors, Texts, and Strategies”, 54th Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, San Diego, March 4-7, 2004.
  • „Die Internationalisierung der chinesischen Schauspiel- und Filmbühne im 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert“, Filmworkshop „Lokale, nationale und transnationale Dimensionen im frühen chinesischen Film: Vorbilder, Einflüsse, Interaktionen“, 5.- 6. February 2004, Sinology Frankfurt. Introduced paper.


  • “Shi, shang, shen: jindai Shanghai shimin zhi shehui wangluo yu xixue de pujihua”, invited to the Int’l Conference, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, December 2003. Panel discussant.
  • “Pluralismus und Pressefreiheit in Chinas langem 19. Jahrhundert“. Annual conference of the DVCS, November 2003, Köln.
  • „Press Freedom and Political Radicalisation in 19th Century Shanghai“, invited by Arif Dirlik to the Int’l Conference, “From the Book to the Internet: Communication Technologies, Human Motions and Cultural Formations in Eastern Asia.”,University of Oregon, October 16-18, 2003.
  • „Zhonguo xinwen shiye yu wan Qing gongzhong lingyu de bianzhuang (Der chinesische Journalismus und die Transformation der öffentlichen Sphäre in der späten Qing Zeit). Invited to Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Institute for History, 21 March 2003.


  • „Naming the Self and the Other: Negotiations on Correct International Terms for Nations, Rulers and the People in 19th Century China“ invited to the international workshop „Transnational Dimensions of the Chinese Press, 1850-1949,“ University of Oregon, 25-26. October 2002.
  • „1934: Jiang Qing's "Year of Nora": Female Interactions on Political and Theatrical Stages“ Invited to the international conference „Women in Republican China“ east Asian seminar of Freien Universität Berlin, 7- 10. October 2002
  • „Zhengming in transkultureller Interaktion: Diskussionen zu den Bezeichnungen von Chinesen und Ausländern im 19. Jahrhundert“ Invited to the Symposium on the occasion of 70th Birthday by Professor Wolfgang Lippert, attaining, 2- 3. May 2002
  • „The Internationalisation of Scientific Knowledge Production in 19th Century China“: Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, Washington, 4-9. April 2002. Organisation of the panel.


  • „In the Heat of the Night: Shanghai’s Electrification and the Contingency of Social Practice“ Invited to the conference „Measuring Historical Heat: Event, performance and Impact in China and the west “, Heidelberg, 4-5 November 2001
  • „Students Abroad and Teachers at Home? Early Educational Programmes to Study (in) the West in 19th and Early 20th Century China“ and invited as chair and discussant to the panel „Cultural transfer into at Unequal Exchange situation “ICAS II, Berlin, 9-12. August 2001. Organisation of the panel.


  • „Die ersten chinesischen Studenten und Studentinnen im Ausland“ Guest lecture, on the invitation by Prof. Monika Übelhör, Sinology Seminar of the University of Marburg. 28. November 2000.
  • „Die Rolle der chinesischen Auslandsstudenten im modernen China“ Guest lecture in the annual meeting of the Association of the Chinese (Taiwan) in Germany for Research and Teachings (VCTDFL), Goettingen, 3-5 November 2000.
  • „Zur Rolle der Frauenforschung in den neuen Kulturwissenschaften“, „Frauenrollen im dramatischen Werk der zeitgenössischen Schriftstellerin Xu Pinli (1953 -)“, presented paper and gave lecture on invitation to the Symposium” on other ways? Writing women from the antiquity to the present”, Hamburg, 20. - 22 October 2000.
  • „The Micropolitics of Modern Scientific Knowledge Production in Late Qing China“ Biannual Meeting of the EACS, Torino, August 2000. Organisation of the panel.
  • „Westliches Wissen in China: Transkultureller Wissenstransfer und die sprachliche Handlungskompetenz seiner Akteure“ DFG round table discussion: Non-European commercial authority in the argument with Europe, IWH Heidelberg, 29 June - 1 July 2000
  • „Chinese Students in the World and their Relation to China“ Workshop: China and Japan: Transcultural Interaction and its Impact on Language and Identity, Göttingen, 20 June 2000. Organisation of the workshops.
  • „Silenced Newspaper Voices: Liang Qichao and the Conditions of f Chinese Journalism in Late Qing China“ Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, San Diego, 9- 12. March 2000.


  • „‘Freiheit’ in Übersetzung - zur Übersetzung von Wissenskulturen im 19. Jhdt. in China aus der Perspektive der historischen Semantik“ Invitation to the Workshop „translation “of the Graduiertenkollegs” religion and Normativität” in the University of Heidelberg, 11-12 December 1999.
  • „Features of an Early Scientific Community: a Prosopographical Study of Translators, Journalists and Scientists in 19th Century China“ International Conference „Translating Western Knowledge into Late Imperial China. University of Göttingen, 6- 9. December 1999. Organisation of the conference.
  • „Die Frau auf der Straße: Diskussionen zur Rolle der Frau in der Öffentlichkeit der späten Qing Zeit“Invited to the Symposium „between tradition and revolution. Life of Chinese women at the threshold to the modern trend “. University of Marburg, 26-28 November 1999.
  • „Zur Entstehung literaturwissenschaftlicher Theorie im kulturgeschichtlichen Kontext“ invited to lecture of Auswahl einer/s Nachwuchsgruppenleiter/s/rin on the theme „Interkulturalität“ of SFB 511, University of Konstanz, November 1999.
  • „Übersetzung und Aufklärung in China. Zur Entstehung der modernen chinesischen Wissenschaftssprache(n) seit dem 19. Jahrhundert“ (together with Joachim Kurtz) Invited by the annual convention of the German society for the study of 18th century „translation and language acquisition “, Potsdam, 7-9 October 1999.
  • „Shijiu shiji Zhongguo baozhang yu gonggong lingyu de xingcheng“ Guest lecture on the invitation of Professor Benjamin Tsou from City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, February 1999.


  • „Protestanten, Presse und Propaganda in China: Strategien der Aneingung und Selbstbehauptung von chinesischen Journalisten im 19. Jahrhundert“ Deutscher Historikertag, Frankfurt, 8-11. September 1998.
  • „Unity vs. Uniformity: On the Prerequisites and Debates of Forming Journalist Associations in China (1895 - 1905)“ ICAS I, Leiden, 25-28 June 1998.
  • „Aneignung und Selbstbehauptung der chinesischen Journalisten: Vom schwierigen Umgang mit den Missionarszeitungen“ Closing meeting for the participants of the DFG key program ”Transformation der europäischen Expansion”, Heidelberg, February,1998.


  • „Who is the Most Chinese: Market Strategies of Wang Tao ’s Xunhuan Ribao (Hongkong 1874) and Ernest Major’s Shenbao (Shanghai 1872)“ invited to International Conference on Wang Tao and the Modern World. Hongkong, December 1997.
  • „Testing the Limits: Reader’s Discussions in the Shenbao and its Consequences (1874 -1875)“ Invited to International Workshop: Press, Reader and Market in China and Asia, Heidelberg, 19-22 October 1997.
  • „Chinese Newspaper‘s Response to the West: Strategien der Shenbao und Xunhuan Ribao im Umgang mit westlichen Zeitungsmodellen” Annual meeting of the DFG key program ”Transformation der europäischen Expansion”, Blaubeuren, 10-12 January 1997.


  • „Voices From the Readership: Letters-to-the Editor in the First Chinese Dailies in Hongkong and Shanghai“ Biannual Meeting of the EACS, Barcelona, 4.-7. September 1996
  • „Duzhe zhi sheng: Shenbao yu Xunhuan Ribao de zui zao de duzhe laixin“ Invitation of Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai, 22-23. August 1996.
  • „Wang Tao (1828-1897): Pioneering the Hongkong Newspaper Business“ Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, Honolulu, 11-14 March 1996.