Jack W. Chen works on early and medieval Chinese literature and thought, with a focus on poetry, poetics, and anecdotal writings. He is the author of The Poetics of Sovereignty: On Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty (2010) and Anecdote, Network, Gossip, Performance: Essays on the Shishuo xinyu (2021), as well as co-editor of Idle Talk: Gossip and Anecdote in Traditional China (2013), Literary Information in China: A History (2021), and the forthcoming Literary History in and beyond China: Reading Text and World (2023). He has also published various articles and essays on the poet Du Fu, donkey-braying, topic modeling, cybernetics, and network visualization. He was co-director of the SIF-funded Humanities Informatics Lab (Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures; 2017–2020) and is broadly interested in lyric theory, reading practices, computational approaches to literary analysis, information histories, questions of comparative and world methodology, and cats. His current projects include a study of poems composed by ghosts in medieval China, a six volume co-edited literary history of China, and an initiative on the concept of reading across the humanities and cognitive sciences.

He has served as chair of the Modern Language Association (MLA) Pre-14th Century Chinese Executive Forum and two terms as chair of the East and Inner Asia Council (EIAC), one of the four area councils that represent the membership of the Association of Asian Studies (AAS). He currently serves on the editorial boards for the journals postmedieval and Nanyang Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture