Pauline Lee

Pauline Lee


Faculty Visiting Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Religions


A. B., Stanford University (English Literature); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School (Comparative Religions); Ph.D., Stanford University (Religious Studies)

Pauline Lee is Associate Professor of Chinese Thought and Cultures at Saint Louis University.

Professor Lee's scholarship focuses on ethics in Chinese thought, placing her work at an intersection of disciplines including religious studies, philosophy, and literature. She is the author of Li Zhi, Confucianism, and the Virtue of Desire (State University of New York Press, 2012), which examines the 16th century Chinese iconoclast Li Zhi and his views on the role of self-expression and desire in a good life. With Rivi Handler-Spitz and Haun Saussy, she has co-edited A Book to Burn and A Book to Keep (Hidden) (Columbia UP, 2016), the first English-language volume of translations on this major thinker, and The Objectionable Li Zhi: Fiction, Syncretism, and Dissent in Late Ming China (University of Washington Press, 2021), the first English-language volume of critical essays on Li. She also has published or developed projects in the areas of comparative religions, feminisms, space and place, conceptions of children, democracy in China, digital humanities, and public facing art. Her current major project, provisionally entitled Play in China: The Trifling, the Wicked, and the Sacred, examines changing views of play in China through a study of religious and philosophical classics, commentaries on these works, as well as paintings and playthings. She has served as Co-Chair of the Confucian Traditions Unit of the American Academy of Religion, and at Saint Louis University, she is the co-founding director of the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) Center, and with Rachel Lindsey, co-director for the initiative Lived Religion in the Digital Age ( supported by a Henry R. Luce Foundation Grant for Advancing Public Scholarship on Religion and Theology.