College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Keith McMahon

Professor, Chinese Languages and Literatures
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 2119
University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045-7594

Ph.D. Princeton University 1984

Please see Professor McMahon's personal website », for additional information.


Vernacular narrative of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the history of sexuality in China to the verge of modernity, the history of imperial marriage from the legendary past to the end of the last dynasty, mythical and historical narrative from ancient times to the end of the last dynasty, the history of opium smoking and its culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Chinese language teaching.



Keith McMahon studies Ming and Qing fiction, gender character types in Chinese literature and history, and Chinese narrative of all periods. He received his B.A. in French and Comparative Literature from Indiana University, his M.A. in Chinese from Yale University, and his Ph.D. in Chinese from Princeton University. He studied one year of Chinese in Taiwan, did Ph.D. and post-doctorate research in Shanghai and Beijing for four years, and since the late 1970s has visited Taiwan, Shanghai, and Beijing regularly. He has taught at the University of Kansas since 1984, where he was chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures between 1996 and 2008. He is on the editorial board of Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in China and the Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture.

In the past fifteen years he has written on opium smoking in 19th and 20th century China; polygamy, concubinage, and prostitution in eighteenth and nineteenth-century fiction; sexuality and psychoanalytic theory in China; and most recently the history of imperial wives and concubines from the legendary past to the end of the Qing, about which he published a new book in 2013, Women Shall Not Rule: Imperial Wives and Concubines in China from Han to Liao. He has lectured in Chinese and English on these topics in the United States, China, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, and France. Besides teaching and writing, he has been an active cyclist since 1970 and rides approximately 8000 miles every year.

For additional information about Professor McMahon's research, please visit KU ScholarWorks ».


1st annual Graduation Ceremony


Our Statement on Diversity in support of Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk and the University of Kansas Black Student Union’s efforts to combat racism.
The School of Languages & Cultures serves as a gateway to understanding the diversity of the world, through learning languages, literatures, and cultures, past and present. Through its research and teaching, the SLLC offers students opportunities for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world. The faculty and students who teach, research, and learn in the SLLC consider issues of diversity fundamental to all of our work. The study of others' languages, literatures, and cultures enables us to develop deep empathy and perspective informs the way that we approach issues before us, whether on a personal, local, regional, national, or global scale. Therefore take it as axiomatic that the SLLC stands for a campus that is committed to the meaningful sharing, contemplation, and discussion of ideas that emerge from multiple cultural perspectives and experiences. We continually rededicate ourselves to the principle of diversity. We strive to create an atmosphere where all students and faculty feel comfortable and welcome to express their views as well as work together to solve conflict. Further, we view our mission as a center of diversity on a flagship campus as requiring us to lead by example.

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