Helen Zhang PhD

Wellspring Associate Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature Henry Kendall College of Arts & Sciences
School of Language and Literature


Educated at Peking University, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, and Yale, Huiwen (Helen) Zhang identifies herself as a Transreader—a lento reader, poetic translator, creative writer, and cultural critic in One. Transreading is a synthesized approach that Dr. Zhang utilized in her German book Kulturtransfer über Epochen und Kontinente (De Gruyter 2012) and developed into a theory in her English articles, “‘Translated, it is: . . .’—An Ethics of Transreading” (Educational Theory 2014) and “Lu Xun contra Georg Brandes: Resisting the Temptation of World Literature” (EU-topías 2017). The role of Transreader and the theory of Transreading link Dr. Zhang’s research on Chinese, German, and Scandinavian literature, philosophy, history, and art. Her new book (under contract), Prompted Transreading: A Common Language for Cultural Critique, engages those whom Dr. Zhang terms “transreaders of modernity”: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Strindberg, van Gogh, Kollwitz, Lu Xun, and Kafka. Her new article “Mu Dan’s Poetry as A History of Modern China” (Oxford 2018) recognizes poetry as a source for historical studies. Reading poetry as history allows more than new access to the historical events that mold a poet and his poetry. It uncovers lost sentiments, struggles, observations, and critiques that advance our understanding of China.

Ph.D., Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
M.A., Peking University, Beijing, China
B.A., Peking University, Beijing, China

“Prompted Transreading”: a critical theory that Dr. Zhang has developed to explore how history, literature, philosophy, and art generate and reshape one another
Modern Transreaders whom Dr. Zhang currently studies: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Søren Kierkegaard, Georg Brandes, Friedrich Nietzsche, August Strindberg, Vincent van Gogh, Käthe Kollwitz, Ernst Barlach, Richard Wilhelm, Rainer Maria Rilke, Lu Xun, Franz Kafka, and Mu Dan
Ancient Transreaders whom Dr. Zhang currently studies: Laozi, Zhuangzi, Confucius, Liezi, Sunzi

“Transreading”: a method that Dr. Zhang has developed for interdisciplinary studies, which recognizes the simultaneity and interdependence of four activities—close reading (lento reading), literary translation, creative writing, and cultural hermeneutics
Modern German, Scandinavian, and Japanese Literature, Philosophy, and Intellectual History
Modern and Classical Chinese Philology, Poetics, and Philosophy
European-Asian Cultural Transfer and Dialogue
Social Media and Digital Humanities
Contemplative Cinema

CHIN 3113 Chinese Through Literature I
CHIN 3133 Untimely Meditations: A Chinese Perspective
CHIN 3143 Modern Poetry and Prose
CHIN 4123 Chinese Microblogging
CHIN 4143 Contemplative Cinema: The Chinese Contribution
CPLT 2343 The Dilemma of Modernity
HON 3003 Modernization and Its Discontents