Leilei Chen, PhD

ATS Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Arts - English & Film Studies Dept

Pronouns: she, her, hers


ATS Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Arts - English & Film Studies Dept


Area of Study / Keywords

travel writing women's literature literary and cultural translations Canadian diasporic and Indigenous literature literature in translation gender culture migration and identity formation


Former Associate Professor of English in Jinan University, China, I came to Edmonton to pursue an English PhD at the University in 2004. I became a Chinese migrant on Turtle Island with Canadian citizenship and an ESL English prof ranked "Associate Lecturer." I publish in both Mandarin and English, and translate prose and poetry in both directions. I am committed to community building and am VP of Canada-China Friendship Society of Edmonton and VP-West Canada of the Literary Translators Association of Canada. 


My research in the field of English Studies has come a long way, starting with writing my MA thesis on George Eliot’s early novels and then broadening to investigate infanticide in literature from the eighteenth century to contemporary period, cultural conflict and hybrid identity in Chinese American women’s writing, and exploring practical approaches to literary translation and pedagogies of teaching English as a subsequent language. Most recently I focus on contemporary travel writing, literary and cultural translation, and twenty-first-century Canadian literature.

Over the long span of my research career, my curiosity remains consistent for gender issues, individual transformation in a cross-cultural context, interplay between migration and identity formation, literary and cultural translation. I was intrigued by the recurrent subject of mother-committed infanticide in literary texts such as Adam Bede and published essays that question the stereotype of “the angel of the hearth” and the ideology of motherhood. I felt fascinated when reading travel books about China, my native country. Its image in Canadian journalist Jan Wong’s Red China Blues is both familiar and strange, and invited me to explore the genre’s limited commitment to “truth” – the ways in which the writing about the foreign country is tinged by travel writer’s cultural baggage, readers’ expectations, and the power of cultural institutions. I observed that travellers undergo changes in their understanding of self and other, home and abroad whether they like it or not. While Jan Wong may need to follow the convention of portraying China as the antithesis of the West, Jock Tuzo Wilson – a geophysicist from the University of Toronto – found his China trip in 1959 unsettling so many preconceived ideas about the country, which he vividly remembers in One Chinese Moon. I was amazed to discover that his travel in Communist China had catalysed a series of cultural exchanges between Canada and China even before the two countries had any official diplomatic relations.

My study of gender, travel, migration, identity, and translation goes hand in hand with the reflection of myself as a female, a traveller, an immigrant, a multilingual writer, translator, and scholar trying to make sense of myself in transit and of the different homes where I reside. So, in addition to traditional academic methodologies, my research takes an anthropological approach: I position myself as a participant of Canadian literary culture by writing creatively and translating in both directions between Mandarin and English. In “Cleaning Sarah’s Room,” I grew out of the maternal guilt. The strong bond with my daughter allowed me to compromise between a productive academic and a good mother. In “Life Begins at Forty,” my feminist awakening originated from the confinement of the heterosexual marriage. As my spouse and I reinvented ourselves in meeting the challenges of living in a new country, I developed my sense of independence as well as the commitment to the marital relationship. In “Food Ties,” I rediscovered my strength and resilience, came to terms with displacement and nostalgia, and embraced multiple cultural attachments.

I research and introduce contemporary Canadian literature to Mandarin readers and modern/contemporary Chinese writers to English readers through translation. Shuhua Ling’s short story "Once Upon a Time," eco-writing by contemporary Chinese authors, Zhang Li’s “Women’s Nonfiction Writing in China,” Ma Hui’s poetry in I Have Forsaken Heaven and Earth that are forthcoming, as well as Margaret Laurence’s “The Loons,” “Half Husky," and the James Bay Cree story from The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee that have been published, represent my recent endeavours. My participatory role as a writer and translator in the field of Canadian literature presents it as a diverse landscape of traditions and sensibilities.


Learning happens when the previous knowledge dialogue with the new one as I listen patiently, observing carefully, and thinking critically. Productive learning comes from an open mind to new experiences, a mind that allows encounters with “the strange” to be a necessary process of personal growth. A teacher’s role, for me, is to try every means to make this curiosity-driven and mind-opening learning experience happen.

In the context of literary and cultural studies, to learn is to connect with the texts, the peers, and the community, and to acquire a vocabulary with which to articulate one’s complex relationship with the place one inhabits. To teach is to help build these connections, to equip students with the professional skills and cultural literacy they need to function well in today’s globalized world.

Teaching is a challenging task. It requires me to see every moment—even a tense and difficult situation—as a potential teaching moment. It is nonetheless rewarding; when the student evaluations demonstrate a positive response to my teaching, I know I have made meaningful changes to the students, to myself, and to the place we inhabit together.


2005-2022, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta 

  • ENGL 113 Literature of a Global Perspective
  • ENGL 121 Literature in Historical Perspective
  • ENGL 122 Texts and Contexts
  • ENGL 123 Literature in Global Perspective
  • ENGL 124 Literary Analysis
  • ENGL 199 Essentials of Writing for Engineering Students
  • ENGL 102 Introduction to Critical Analysis
  • BP ENGL 124 (Bridging Program for international students): Literary Analysis
  • BP ENGL 102 (Bridging Program for international students): Introduction to Critical Analysis
  • Writing Studies 101 Exploring Writing
  • BP Writing Studies 101 (Bridging Program for international students): Exploring Writing
  • CHINA 428 Chinese-English Translation

2015-2017, Dept. of English, MacEwan UniversityENGL 111 Communication

  • ENGL 102 Analysis and Argument
  • ENGL 103 Introduction to Literature

2013-2014, Dept. of English, Concordia University of Edmonton

  • ENGL 343 The Age of Sensibility
  • ENGL 111 Literature and Composition I
  • ENGL 112 Literature and Composition II

2013, Writing Centre, Concordia University of Edmonton

  • English Writing for Academic Purposes

2011-2014, English for Academic Purposes, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta

  • Bridging Program “Introduction to Literature”

1995-2004, College of Foreign Studies, Jinan University, China

  • English Composition
  • Comprehensive English (Grammar, reading and writing)
  • Extensive English (interdisciplinary reading and writing)
  • Business English in Oral and Written Format (Business speaking and writing)


  • 2020 Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) Distinguished Teaching Award, short-list
  • 2017 Community Service-Learning Small Grant Award, $2500, University of Albert 
  • 2003 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Jinan University
  • 2002 Award for Excellence in Student Advising, Jinan University
  • 2001 Award for Excellence in Student Advising, Jinan University                                                          


I made a personal website: www.leileichen.ca


I Have Forsaken Heaven and Earth. Calgary: Frontenac House. 2023. Contemporary Chinese poetry translated from 《我放下过天地,却从未放下过你——仓央嘉措诗传》,马辉、苗欣宇著,北京联合出版社2012年出版。

《民族主義——牛津通識讀本》translated from Nationalism: A Very Short Introduction by Steven Grosby (Oxford University Press). Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 2019.

《民族主义——牛津通识读本》translated from Nationalism: A Very Short Introduction by Steven Grosby (Oxford University Press). Nanjing, China: Yilin Press, 2017.

Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-cultural Understanding. Regina: University of Regina Press. 2016.

Women’s Nonfiction Writing in China: The Birth of a New Paradigm. TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies. Spring 2022. Translated from 《非虚构女性写作:一种新的女性写作范式的生成》in 《70后批评家文丛张莉卷》,陈思和、周明全主编,云南人民出版社,2016年。

《半个哈士奇》、《潜鸟》,《花城》2022年第4期。translated from “Half Husky,” “The Loons” by Margaret Laurence.

Translation as Co-creation with the Author. TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies. August 2020.

《瓦城玛姬和西蒙的故事》. Translation of “The Story of Maggie Happyjack and Simon Etapp of Waswanipi” in The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee: Stories of Diabetes and the James Bay Cree. TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies. August 2020.

《医疗进步和女性声誉——天花接种及其影响(二)》, 《粤海风》No. 136,2020. Translated from “Medical Advancement and Female Fame: Inoculation and After-effect” by Isobel Grundy. Lumen: Selected Proceedings from the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. vol. 15, 1994, 13-42.

《医疗进步和女性声誉——天花接种及其影响(一)》, 《粤海风》No. 134,2020. Translated from “Medical Advancement and Female Fame: Inoculation and After-effect” by Isobel Grundy. Lumen: Selected Proceedings from the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. vol. 13, 1994, 13-42.

The Horizon of Cross-Cultural Understanding: A Case Study of Jock T. Wilson’s One Chinese Moon. Studies in Travel Writing (Spring 2010): 77-96.

Enlightened Ambivalence: Arrival and Departure in Peter Hessler’s River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. Genre 29 (2009): 53-69.

 在瞬息万变的世界中重建传统——探求全球化和宗教及传统文化现代性的理论,《中国社会科学辑刊》, 2009年第27期。第142-147页。Translated from “Remaking Tradition in a World in Motion: Towards a Theory of Globalization and Religious Modernity” by Jean DeBernardi.

Food Ties. Beyond the Food Court: An Anthology of Literary Cuisines. Ed. Luciana Erregue. Laberinto Press, 2020. 98-104.

 Life Begins at Forty. Looking Back, Moving Forward. Ed. Julie Robinson. Mawenzi House. 2019. 181-191.

Cleaning Sarah’s Room. Home: Stories Connecting Us All. Ed. Tololwa M. Mollel. Edmonton, Alberta: Embracing Multicultural Community Development. November 2017. 67-69. http://a4hc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/150-Stories-Master-11242017.pdf.

The Question of Cross-Cultural Understanding and Canadian Literature Studies. Transplanting Canada: Seedlings. Eds. Marie Carriere and Jerry White. Edmonton: Canadian Literature Centre, 2009. 112-17.

Resisting American Orientalism: Rereading Amy Tan as a Counter-Discourse of American Mainstream Ideology. Re-Reading America: Changes and Challenges. Eds. Weihe Zhong and Rui Han. Cheltenham, England: Reardon, 2004. 270-281.

Lam, Gigi & Wai Man Chan. Memories of Old Macau: The Story of My Childhood. Reading in Translation, July 18, 2022. Trans. from 《童年憶舊話澳門》,劉全艷著,香港紅出版(青森文化).

Kuhen, Julia and Paul Smethurst. New Directions in Travel Writing. In ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 49. 3 (July 2018). 284-286.

R. Radhakrishnan. History, the Human, and the World Between, in ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 41.1 (January 2010). 183-186.

A Creative Journey Toward Otherness. Outpost, Literary Translators Association of Canada. May 11, 2022.

《一朵鲜红的玫瑰》,《声讨爱情》,《她爱两个人一样深》translated from “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns,“Against Love” by Katherine Philips, “On Her Loving Two Equally” by Aphra Behn. 南方艺术网. Feb 9, 2022. 

《也是异乡人》. WePoetry or《海外诗粹》. Jan 1, 2022.  

“The Dual Role of a Translator and a Poet.” ellipse. No. 91-92. 2021.

Translation Is Art: Capturing a Writer’s Authentic Voice. Westword. July-September 2021. 24-25.

Poetry in Translation: East Meets West. Outpost, Literary Translators Association of Canada. Sept 22, 2021.

《公号的欲望》, 《也是异乡人》,《在路上》,《穿越》. Four poems published at 南方艺术网. Nov 26, 2021. https://www.zgnfys.com/a/nfwx-59772.shtml

Re-orienting China: A Chinese Canadian Scholar’s Book That Promotes Cross-cultural Understanding. Women of China. April 2017.

Global Travel and a Sustainable Future. University of Alberta’s 2017 International Week. January 30-February 3, 2017.

Response to Patrick Brown’s review of Alexandre Trudeau’s Barbarian Lost: Travels in New China, Literary Review of Canada 35.9 (November 2016). 32.