Eric Hayot

Eric Hayot

Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies
447 Burrowes Bldg.
(814) 867-5710
Eric Hayot


Ph.D. University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, 1999
B.A., M.A. Georgetown University

Professional Bio

The first decade of my career mainly focused on the ways in which China (and a variety of correlates each working to undermine the geographic, cultural, or political singularity of the word “China”) have affected the intellectual, literary, and cultural history of the West (similarly undermined). My first book, Chinese Dreams (Michigan, 2004), centers on the politics of translation and theatrical representation, attending to examples in English, German, and French. My second book, The Hypothetical Mandarin: Sympathy, Modernity, and Chinese Pain (Oxford, 2009) tied the “invention” of the universal subject of a globalizing modernity to a series of legal, literary, sociological, medical, and photographic relations to Chinese suffering. I’ve since done another two books, On Literary Worlds (2012), and The Elements of Academic Style (2014). My most recent book is Humanist Reason (2021).

I teach graduate classes on modernity, theories of worldedness, and poetry and poetics, and have directed dissertations in Chinese/Asian American comparative literature, modernist and Victorian literature, information and poetics, media theory, and postcolonial/African literature. At the undergraduate level, I teach a large course on video games, as well as courses on modern narrative (Proust/Joyce), and a course called “Being in the Universe,” which I co-teach with an astronomer. I am the director of Penn State’s Center for Humanities and Information.


  • Theory & Criticism
  • Worldedness and World Literature
  • Information Theory
  • Comparative Modernisms and Modernities
  • Poetics