Dr Weiao Xing

Postdoctoral Affiliate

I am a cultural historian looking at translingual and cultural encounters across the Atlantic. I was a short-term visiting fellow at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, the Huntington Library, and the Massachusetts Historical Society where I developed my recent interest in the history of books. Based at the Institute of Modern History, I am a visiting fellow at the Global Encounters Platform, University of Tübingen. My doctoral thesis is entitled ‘Languages, Translation, and Encounters in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World’ (submitted in 2022 and approved in 2023). Before continuing to my doctoral programme as a Cambridge Trust Scholar in 2018, I received my MPhil in Early Modern History from Magdalene College, Cambridge. In the same year, I attended the 12th HiSoN Summer School in Historical Sociolinguistics for interdisciplinary training. From 2013 to 2017, I studied for my Bachelor's degree in World History with a Minor in Translation Studies at Nankai University in China. I am also an alumnus of the undergraduate Global Learning Semester  a liberal arts programme at Duke Kunshan University.

Both my MPhil and PhD were supervised by Professor Mary Laven. For my PhD, I was advised by Professor Sarah Pearsall (2018–21) and Dr Amy Morris (2021–23). My thesis was examined by Dr Arianne Sedef Urus and Dr John Gallagher.

I have been one of the editors of the Doing History in Public (DHP) blog since 2020.

In 2020–21, I co-convened the Cambridge Workshop for the Early Modern Period (WEMP). I was one of the part-time translators of the Chinese version of The Cambridge History of Scandinavia.

My doctoral thesis is concerned with translingual and cross-cultural encounters in the early modern North Atlantic world. Zooming in on languages, translations, and print culture, I examine English-Indigenous and French-Indigenous encounters along the eastern seaboard of North America in the seventeenth century. In my MPhil dissertation, I specifically examined language acquisition and education in English encounters with Algonquian in seventeenth-century Massachusetts. My previous research also covers the Francophone side, illuminating the cultural influence of French missionaries and explorers in New France. I used to be an undergraduate research collaborator in social history (the Wong Tai Sin belief in Hong Kong) and media history in modern East Asia. Methodologically, apart from approaches in cultural history and global history, I am broadly interested in interdisciplinarity, including early modern multilingualism and the interface between the social history of languages and historical sociolinguistics.

2022–23, Part I Paper 16: European History, 1450–1760 (Revision session: Europe, the World, and Global Catholicism, with Dr Marina Inì)

2021–22, Historical Argument and Practice: Global (Postgraduate-led lecture and seminar)

2020–21, Transition Skills: The Caribbean in the Age of Revolution (Supervisions)

Health-Check: Reading and Note-Taking (Seminar, with Dr Christopher Briggs)

‘You are the Examiner…’ (Seminar)

I have presented at several conferences, workshops, and symposia in Cambridge, London, Lincoln, Berlin, Dublin, Chicago, and also online. They were held at the University of Cambridge, King's College London, Freie Universität Berlin, University of Kent, the Social History Society, the Renaissance Society of America, and the Southeastern Renaissance Conference.

I have served as a panel chair or an equivalent in some of the conferences.


Tags & Themes


Downing College, Cambridge, CB2 1DQ


Key publications

[Book chapter, under revision] ‘Representing Interpreters in Theatre and History in Seventeenth-Century New France’, in Multilingual Texts and Translations in Early Modern Culture, Approaches to Translation Studies, ed. Adrian Izquierdo (Leiden: Brill, 2023).

[Article, under revision] ‘Puritan Narratives of Encounters in Early Eighteenth-Century New England’, in ‘Constructing Historical Narrative in Early Modern Europe’, ed. Megan Armstrong, Hilary Bernstein, and Fabien Montcher, special issue, Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme (2023).

[Book chapter, under revision] ‘Language Learning in Atlantic English-Algonquian Encounters in 17th-Century Massachusetts’ in Linguistics and Language Teaching in the Early Modern Period, Multilingualism, Lingua Franca and Translation in the Early Modern Period, ed. Karen Bennett and Gonçalo Fernandes (London: Routledge, 2023).

[Book chapter, peer-reviewed] ‘Linguistics and Epistemology in Thomas Harriot’s North Atlantic World’, in Renaissance Papers 2021, ed. Jim Pearce, Ward J. Risvold, and William Given (Rochester: Camden House, 2022), 107-122, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781800108257.009.

[Book review, peer-reviewed] ‘John Gallagher (2019): Learning Languages in Early Modern England’, Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics 6, no. 2 (2020), DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jhsl-2020-0003.

[Book review] Nathan Vedal, The Culture of Language in Ming China: Sound, Script, and the Redefinition of Boundaries of Knowledge’, Renaissance Studies, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/rest.12935.

[Book review] ‘Language and the Grand Tour: Linguistic Experiences of Travelling in Early Modern Europe by Arturo Tosi’, The Modern Language Review 117, no. 2 (2022): 284-86, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/mlr.2022.0065.

Other publications

[Blog post] ‘Cooking with Chestnuts in Winter’, Advent Calendar 2023, in Doing History in Public, 10 December 2023, online.

[Blog post] ‘Reading French-Indigenous Encounters from the Francophone Scholarship in Canada’, in European Languages across Borders: Collections in Germanic, Romance and Slavonic Languages at the University of Cambridge (Cambridge University Library), 24 August 2023, online.

[Blog post] ‘The Christmas Eve of 1647 in the Journal des Jésuites’, Advent Calendar 2022, in Doing History in Public, 14 December 2022, online.

[Blog post] ‘Performing French-Indigenous Encounters in Seventeenth-Century New France’, in The Multimedia Craft of Wonder: Forming and Performing Marvels in Medieval and Early Modern Worlds, 1200–1600, 13 January 2022, online.

[Blog post] ‘Massialot’s Knowledge of December Cuisines’, Advent Calendar 2021, in Doing History in Public, 17 December 2021, online.

[Blog post] ‘Mentalités and Body Politics: Aspects of Our Pandemic Global Microhistory’, in Doing History in Public, 19 January 2021, online.

[Blog post] ‘Praying the Rosary in 17th-Century China’, Advent Calendar 2020, in Doing History in Public, 17 December 2020, online.

[Blog post] ‘Legacy or Residue? Rethinking Imperial and Colonial History during a Racial Crisis’, Community Exchange (The Social History Society), 15 June 2020, online.

[Newspaper article] ‘The Defence of the Great Wall in Famous English Media’, co-authored with Jie Hou, Unity Daily, 1 March 2018, also online (in Chinese).

[Collection of primary sources co-edited] The Great Wall and the Second Sino-Japanese War (19371945) (Beijing: Unity Press, 2016).