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Guangchen ChenAssistant Professor


Guangchen Chen (陳廣琛) is Assistant Professor of Chinese in the Department of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Emory University. He received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with a secondary field in Music from Harvard University. Prior to joining Emory, he was a Cotsen Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University, where he also served as a lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Humanities Council.

As a comparative literary scholar, he works on topics broadly concerning the intersection between literary and material culture, and is particularly interested in collecting as an epistemological intervention into received taxonomy and narrativity. His first book manuscript, "In Things We Trust: The Culture of Collecting and Chinese Literary Modernity," addresses the tension between collecting and narrating by analyzing a striking pattern: 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 version of modernity.

Additionally, he is interested in the concept of “negative musicality” that defines music through negation, i.e., silence, non-emotionality, non-representation and atemporality. As the subject of his second book, “negative musicality” treats “sound” in its broader sense to include its opposite, and explores a wide perspective of creative freedom by pushing aurality to its conceptual limit.

Working mainly on Chinese (classical and modern), but also German, English and Czech literatures and musicology, his research interests also include Chinese intellectual history, Sino-Czech cultural relations, phenomenology of music, and the politics of aesthetics. 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).

Selected Publications

“The Infinite Collection and the Mortal Collector: Lu Xun, Flea Market Revolutionary.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC), Spring 2020.

“The Biography of a Ritual Vessel: On Naming, and the Dialectics of Authenticity.” Études Chinoises, vol. XXXVII-2 (2018): 101-138.

“The Hand, the Gaze and the Voice: Lu Xun’s Transcription of Ancient Inscriptions.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), No. 40 (2018).

“Fu Lei and Fou Ts’ong.” A New Literary History of Modern China. Ed. David Der-wei Wang. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017.


David Damrosch: How to Read World Literature. Chinese Translation. Beijing: Peking University Press, forthcoming 2020. (Subsidized by the Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University.)

Albert Schweitzer: Johann Sebastian Bach, Volume II. Chinese translation. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press, 2017.

Claire Roberts: Friendship in Art: Fou Lei (Fu Lei) and Huang Binhong. Chinese translation. Shanghai: Zhong Xi Shu Ju, 2015.