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Mr Jiarui Yu

A Study of Shennongjia Region: the dynamic interrelation among Religion, Politics and Environment

A Study of Shennongjia Region: the dynamic interrelation among Religion, Politics and Environment in the Department of History


I am a history PhD candidate, researching the early modern environmental history of China. I completed both a BA (2022) and an MA (2023) (distinction) in History at Durham University. I am also an independent history novel writer and a teacher at a local charity school, besides doing history research.

Current Research

Current Research: My thesis explores the environmental transformation of Western Hubei and the experience of the lives there during the late imperial era (early modern), including people, animals and plants. It analyses the relationship between humans, flora and fauna, and states in this remote and solitude region of the Qing Empire, and how they entangled together, either for conflict or cooperation.

I focus on utilizing the 'miscellaneous records' (杂记 Zaji) in understanding the nature-human interaction. 'Zaji' contains a variety of essays, poetries, and inscriptions left by scholars in the past, which tell the folk beliefs, animal expansion, human-made disasters and so on. By utilizing 'Zaji', I investigate the change and extinction of the common lives in Western Hubei from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.

My other project is about the Beiyang Fleet Sailor Graves (北洋水师墓)in Elswick Cemetry, Newcastle. Based on my historical research, I am writing novels about why Chinese sailors came to Victorian Britain to pick up Ironclad warships, how they felt about British culture, and what they experienced in the Northeast. I have already finished the first volume of 'Journey to Northumbria" (诺霜行记), which includes four chapters, and planning to start the sequels soon.

Here is the link for the novel (still updating weekly/monthly, I don't want to publish all the chapters at once ): Liuyuanwang:;uname=NTI1MzM4ODY%3D Twitter: It is written in half-classical and half-modern Chinese, with plenty of fantastic poetry.

As shown, I have passions both in history and literature (both in the Chinese Studies field). And I am more than willing to extend to more research fields for both historical studies and literature creation.

Research interests

  • Environmental history
  • Western Hubei
  • Animal in forest and mountains
  • Nature philosophy against the state governance in China
  • Beiyang Fleet in Victorian UK