Weiao Xing

PhD Candidate in Early Modern Atlantic History

I am a PhD candidate in early modern history, focusing on linguistic and cultural encounters in the North Atlantic world. Before continuing to my doctoral programme as a Cambridge Trust Scholar in 2018, I received my MPhil in Early Modern History at 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 are supervised by Professor Mary Laven. I am advised by Professor Sarah Pearsall (2018–21) and Dr Amy Morris (2021).

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 project is concerned with linguistic and cross-cultural encounters in the early modern North Atlantic world with an emphasis on languages, translations, and print culture. 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 of 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.

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, 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] ‘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, 2022).

[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, 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/10.2307/j.ctv2mwg28w.11.

[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] ‘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] ‘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 Anti-Japanese War (19371945) (Beijing: Unity Press, 2016).