Professor Liu's research has focused on cross-cultural exchange in recent history; the movement of words, theories, and artifacts across national boundaries; and the evolution of writing, textuality, and technology.
Her new book is titled The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious (University of Chicago Press). Her most recent articles include "The Cybernetic Unconscious: Lacan, Poe, and French Theory," Critical Inquiry (Winter 2010); "The Pictorial Uncanny," Culture, Theory and Critique; and "Life as Form: How Biomimesis Encountered Buddhism in Lu Xun," Journal of Asian Studies (2009). She has also contributed the chapter "Writing" to Critical Terms for Media Studies, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell and Mark Hansen (University of Chicago Press, 2010); and the essay "Injury: Incriminating Words and Imperial Power" to Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon, ed. Carol Gluck and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing (Duke University Press, 2009). She was the guest editor of a special issue on new media in the spring 2010 number of Jintian (Today, in Chinese), published by Oxford University Press (Hong Kong). Professor Liu's other books include The Clash of Empires: The Invention of China in Modern World Making (2004); Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulations (editor, 1999); Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity (1995); and Writing and Materiality in China (coedited with Judith Zeitlin, 2003).
She was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1997–1998) and was a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (2004–2005).
Among her many activities in 2009-2010, Professor Liu founded a new Tsinghua-Columbia Center for Translingual and Transcultural Studies (CTTS)at Tsinghua University in Beijing to promote international collaboration and interdisciplinary research. At Columbia, she organized an international conference on "New Media and Global Transformation" in fall 2009. With Professor Dorothy Ko and Professor Rebecca Karl, she helped organize a workshop on "Translated Feminisms: China and Elsewhere" and created a seminar on the same subject co-taught among Columbia University, Barnard College and NYU in spring 2010.