Guangchen Chen

Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and Comparative Literature. Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow.
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020 Joseph Henry House

Guangchen Chen received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (with a secondary field in Music) from Harvard University, an M.A. in Comparative & World Literature from Peking University and a B.A. in English from Beijing Language University. He was awarded the Frederic Sheldon Traveling Fellowship at Harvard University (2015-16) and a Junior Fellowship with the thematic network “Principles of Cultural Dynamics” at the Freie Universität Berlin (2015).

His first book manuscript, "In Things We Trust: The Culture of Collecting and Chinese Literary Modernity," will be the subject of a workshop at Princeton during his fellowship term. This book addresses the tension between collecting and narrating in modern Chinese literary history. It investigates a striking pattern in which accomplished writers abandoned their innovative literary projects and turned to collecting ancient artifacts, transforming an ostensibly conservative hobby into a form of resistance against the problematic agenda of literary revolution and an increasingly violent and hegemonic version of modernity. He is concurrently working on a second book, tentatively entitled "The Quest for a Negative Musicality: Cross-cultural Imaginations of the Chinese Sound."

Working on Chinese (classical and modern), German, English and Czech literatures and musicology, his research interests include modern Chinese literature and intellectual history, literary-musical relations, Sino-Czech cultural relations, phenomenology of music, and the politics of aesthetics (especially the problem of kitsch). His publications have appeared or will appear in Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, ReviewsÉtudes ChinoisesModern Chinese Literature and CultureMonumenta Serica, and A New Literary History of Modern China (Harvard UP, 2017). He translated Albert Schweitzer’s "Johann Sebastian Bach," David Damrosch's "How to Read World Literature" and Claire Roberts’ "Friendship in Art: Fu Lei and Huang Binhong" into Chinese. At Princeton, he has taught/co-taught the following courses: “On Collecting: Anatomy of an Obsession,” “Imagining Sounds of China: Encounters and Fantasies,” “A Cultural History of 19th Century through Wagner’s Ring,” and a survey course on modern Chinese literature. In his teaching he made use of the rich resources of the University's Art Museum and Firestone Library.