Skip To Main Content

Nathaniel Kenneth Isaacson

Assistant Professor


  Nathaniel finished his PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA in the spring of 2011 and is proud to have joined the NCSU faculty, and to be working with China and Asian studies scholars in the Triangle area.  Outside of academic life, Nathaniel enjoys rock climbing, and playing soccer. 


  Academic and research interests include Late Qing through contemporary Chinese literature and cultural studies, especially science fiction and cinema. 



  At present, Nathaniel is working furiously to publish a number of chapters of his dissertation, "Colonial Modernities and Chinese Science Fiction."  Nathaniel has also begun a continuation of his dissertation project, which examines the history of Chinese science fiction through the contemporary period.  This project looks at the life of Tong Enzheng as a window on the state of science, science fiction and the culture industry during the Maoist and Post-Mao era. 

Funded Research

CHASS Research and Exchange Programs Development Ambassador to Universities in China. North Carolina State University. Summer, 2013.

Summer Research Stipend, 2012.

UCLA Distinguished Teaching Assistant, 2010

UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship, 2010

Extension & Community Engagement

Translator, World Chinese Science Fiction website newsletter, 2011-present.

Panelist, University of Iowa International Programs Radio Show, Global Canvass, Spring 2012. 


“Blurred Visions of Nation and State in Tong Enzheng’s Death Ray on a Coral Island,” in: Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Forthcoming.
Editorial Advisor for Author Entry on Confucius, in: Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism. Columbia, SC: Layman Poupard.  2013. 
“SF for the Nation: Tales of the Moon Colony and the Birth of Modern Chinese Fiction,” Science Fiction Studies. Vol. 40, No. 119, March, 2013, 22-33.
Author profile of Chen Ran.  In: Dictionary of Literary Biography vol. 370: Chinese Fiction Writers: 1950-200. Detroit: Gale Cengage, 2013. Pp.
(Translator). Yangzi, “As Night Fell it Began to Rain,’ and “The Flowers Beneath the Overpass.” Pathlight: New Chinese Writing, No. 3 Dec, 2012.
(Translator). Xu Nianci, “New Tales of Mr. Braggadocio” (Xin faluo xiansheng tan). Renditions, 77&78, Fall 2011, 15-38.
(Translator). Han Song, “The Passenger and the Creator” (Chengke yu chuangzaozhe). Renditions, 77&78, Fall 2011, 144-172.
(Translator). Lu Xun, “Lessons From the History of Science” (Kexue shi jiao pian). Renditions, 74, Fall, 2010, 80-99.



Panelist: Duke University Workshop on Yan Lianke. "Yan Lianke de xuyan" (Yan Lianke's "Further Reading").  March, 2013. 

Panelist and Panel Chair: National Conference of Association for Asian Studies. ”East Asian Utopias and Dystopias,” March 2013
Invited Speaker: Wesleyan University Enzheng Tong Memorial Lecture Series, “Media and Messages: Blurred Visions of Nation and State in Enzheng Tong’s ‘Death Ray on a Coral Island.’” February, 2012
Panelist: National Conference of Association of Asian Studies. “Science Fiction, Colony, Canon: Tales of the Moon Colony and the history of modern Chinese fiction,” March 2012
Panelist, Visions of the Future: Global Science Fiction Cinema Conference, “Media and Messages: Blurred Visions of Nation and State in Tong Enzheng’s ‘Death Ray on a Coral Island,” February, 2012
Panelist: Duke University Triangle China Forum, “Revisiting the Body: Corporeal Imaginations from Late Imperial to Contemporary China,” November 2011

Panel Organizer and Panelist: National Conference of Association of Asian Studies
“Mr. Science at the Writing Desk: Science Fiction, Adventure, and Utopia in Modern Chinese Literature,” April, 2011
Panelist: Western Conference of the Association of Asian Studies (WCAAS)
“New Story of the Stone: Chinese Science Fiction and the Imperial Impulse,” October, 2009
Translator: “Lessons From the History of Science” (Kexue shi jiao pian, Lu Xun, 1902) Fudan University Summer Workshop in Scholarly Translation, Shanghai.  September, 2009
Conference Co-organizer, Discussant and Panelist: “China Undisciplined,” UCLA Graduate Student Conference, May, 2008 and 2009
Graduate Student Rapporteur and Discussant: “Anecdote, Gossip, and Occasion in Traditional China” May, 2008
Panelist, American Comparative Literature Association
“Translating Utopia: Lu Xun’s Troubled Visions of Science, Science Fiction and Vernacular Writing in the Late Qing,” April, 2008
Panelist, Columbia University Graduate Student Conference:
“Where the Wild Things Are: Symbolic Inversion and Liminal Identity in
Zhang Guixing’s The Elephant Herd” February, 2007
Panel co-organizer and panelist, WCAAS:
Panel:  “Re-Reading Wang Shuo: Parody as Cultural Critique,” “The Thrill of (Post)-Modernity?”  October 2003 


Director, Chinese Language Program and Chinese Minor, NCSU Foreign Languages and Literature, 2011-Present
World Literature Committee, NCSU, 2012-present
Asian Studies Committee, NCSU, 2011-present
International Programs Committee, NCSU. 2011-present
Adjunct Faculty, Duke University Asian Pacific Studies Institute 2012-present
NCSU Confucius Institute Advisory Board, 2011-present


  • PhD in Modern Chinese Literature from UCLA , 2010