Nicole Xuan Chen

Thesis title: "A Self in Process": Contemporary Biofictions of Virginia Woolf


Nicole Xuan Chen is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. As well as presenting on her research topic, she has engaged in several academic activities both at the English Literature department and other research institutes. Nicole is on the reader panel for James Tait Black Biography Prize and has been a research member of the Narrative Medicine Research Centre at the Southern Medical University (PRC) since 2020. She is a member of the Edinburgh Life Writing Network. As the associate editor of The Polyphony, she spearheads the partnership project "The Polyphony Meets China" to provoke and catalyse reflections on core critical humanities concepts and ideas in both English and Chinese contexts and to stimulate cross-cultural exchanges. 



  • MSc Literature and Modernity: 1900 to the Present, the University of Edinburgh (2016-2017)
  • BA English, Southern Medical University (2012-2016)

Undergraduate teaching

Literary Studies 1B, 2021-2022

Research summary

  • Life Writing 
  • Illness Writing 
  • Medical Humanities (specifically narrative medicine)
  • Modernist Literature & Aesthetics

Current research interests

Nicole's project centers on a sudden cluster of biofictions published within a decade or so from the end of last century which feature Virginia Woolf as the main protagonist-subject. Through the theoretical lenses of the medical humanities, image-text theory, and the art of conversation, this interdisciplinary research explores such key topics in the studies of life-writing as narrative and memory, individual and collective identity, authorship and the ethics of life-writing. 


  • Co-editor and Chief Translator, 《人文与叙事:文学中的医学》(Chinese Translation of Literary Medicine: Brain Diseases and Doctors in Novels, Theater, and Film). Jinan University Press, 2018. ISBN:9787566824202.


  • "Narrative Medicine & Hospice Doulas in China". The Polyphony. November 2022. 

  • 镜像传记中的叙事传承:生命健康叙事视野中的残疾书写研究. 叙事研究 2022, vol. 1: 93-100.

  • 麦琪·吉《弗吉尼亚·伍尔芙在曼哈顿》中的生命叙事.  外国语文 2018: 48-53. 

  • 虚构与非虚构疾病叙事阅读:提升医学生人文涵养的新途径. 南方医学教育 2017, vol.7: 41-45. 


  • November 2021, “Reflective Life-Writing on Disability: Frida Kahlo and My Left Leg (2021)”, Edinburgh Life-Writing Network, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh. 
  • September 2021, “‘The Insane View of Life Has Much to be Said for it’: Biofictional Illness Narratives Featuring ‘the Mad Genius’ Virginia Woolf”, Biofiction as World Literature, KU Leuven, Leuven.
  • March 2021, “Contemporary Biofictions of Virginia Woolf: Madness, Aesthetic Creativity, and Institutionalization”, the 52ND Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association, Online Convention. 
  • February 2020, “‘The New Biography’ and Biofiction: A Study on Generic Narrative Characteristics”,  Edinburgh Life-Writing Network, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh. 

Invited Talks 

  • October 2021. “Contemporary Biofictions, Virginia Woolf, and Illness Narrative”, invited by Prof. Todd Avery, UMass Lowell.