Huiqiao Yao is originally from Beijing, China. She is a Ph.D. candidate majoring in pre-modern Chinese literature and intellectual history. She received her BA in Chinese language and literature from Renmin University of China and got her Master's degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University.
Currently, she is completing her dissertation entitled "Popularizing the Sage: Wang Yangming and Vernacular Confucian Hagiographies in Late Imperial China," which focuses on the legacy depicted in the biographies of various genres of the late-Ming philosopher Wang Yangming 王陽明 (1472-1529). By characterizing a variety of biographical writings about Wang as “vernacular Confucian hagiographies”—including vernacular stories, illustrated manuals, lineage records, chronicles, plays, and recorded sayings—she demonstrates the religious dynamics underlying these seemingly secular Confucian cultural products. This project draws attention to a process of proselytization in the Confucian tradition through print and other media in similar ways to more familiar hagiographies of popular Buddhist and Daoist figures, sheding new light on the interaction between elite and popular literature and between the “Three Teachings” (Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism) during late imperial China. In this process, Wang was not only a pioneering philosopher in Neo-Confucianism but also a cultural and religious icon.
Apart from her research, she writes poetry and short stories. She is also an avid listener of Japanese Enka 演歌 music and has been writing comments on this genre since 2020.