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, and holds an M.A. in Comparative & World Literature from Peking University and a B.A. in English from Beijing Language University. His first book manuscript, to be completed at Princeton, investigates the interplay  between intellectual innovation s  and the collecting of ancient artifacts  in 20th-century China.  The project  examine s  four cases of prominent intellectuals creatively engaging in collecting 1) oracle bones, 2) inscriptions, 3) handicrafts, and 4) ink paintings. Expanding the theoretical framework to incorporate Bernhard Siegert’s media theory of Kulturtechnik, he argues that collecting is an  epistemological attempt to grasp  the world across its myriad materialities and historicities. Working on Chinese (classical and modern), German, English and Czech literatures and musicology, his research interests also 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 include the chapter “Fu Lei and Fou Ts’ong” in A New Literary History of Modern China (Harvard University Press, 2017). He translated Albert Schweitzer’s Johann Sebastian Bach and Claire Roberts’ Friendship in Art: Fu Lei and Huang Binhong into Chinese, and is currently working on the Chinese translation of David Damrosch's How to Read World Literature. He held the Frederic Sheldon Traveling Fellowship from Harvard University, and a Junior Fellowship in the “Principle of Cultural Dynamics” network from Freie Universität Berlin. At Harvard, he served as Program Assistant of the Institute for World Literature. Together with Almut Barbara-Renger (FU Berlin) and John Hamilton (Harvard), he manages the blog “HolyLit: Religion and Literature.” At Princeton he will teach a course entitled “On Collecting: Anatomy of an Obsession” this fall, and in spring 2018 a course exploring modern Chinese literary masterpieces as “complete works of art.”