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Zhen Zhang

Zhen Zhang  | UC Davis

Zhen Zhang | UC Davis

Enlightenment in Translation: May Fourth Intellectuals’ Construction of the “West”

University of California, Davis

My current research deals with the Chinese May Fourth intellectuals’ perception of the “West” in the 1910s and 1920s. The general evaluation of the May Fourth movement, or the New Culture Movement, is the intellectuals’ anti-traditionalism and iconoclasm as opposed to looking back at ancient Chinese traditions for inspirations. My project examines how the “West” is linguistically and ideologically constructed through translation of a large corpus of writings produced in the West and in Russia. The works being translated are selective and the process of translation is creative, which build a self-serving image of the “West.”

Zhen Zhang is a Ph. D. candidate in Comparative Literature at University of California, Davis, where he also worked as a course instructor of Mandarin-Chinese, Russian and comparative literature. His research focuses on Marxist aesthetics, alternative modernity, critical theory, East-West comparative poetics, Sino-Soviet relations, modern Chinese literature, Russian literature and Chinese-language cinemas. His dissertation, “Aesthetic Transformation of Socialist Modernity, From Soviet Model to Chinese Realities,” examines translation, transformation, displacement and reception of socialist ideas in China and the idiosyncratic actualization of socialist modernity. He is a recipient of UC Davis Provost’s Dissertation Year Fellowship (2016-2017) and a PFTF fellow (Professor For the Future) at UC Davis (2015-2016).