Nan Z. Da 笪章难

Assistant professor of English, University of Notre Dame.   University of Michigan- Ann Arbor (PhD 2014) University of Chicago (BA 2006)

I study and teach literary modernity, focusing on American and Chinese literature and contemporary literary theory with side interests in the history of Chinese and Western philosophy and social theory. I am interested in the kinds of social, global, and human phenomena that can only be captured through literary interpretation. 

My first book, Intransitive Encounter (forthcoming from Columbia University Press) uses Sino-US “exchanges” from an earlier era to name a cross-culturalism that is self-contained, that uses itself up in the moment and that, out of no ill will or bad faith, has no mappable afterlife or program of exchange attached. It extracts this intransitivity in various forms and guises from the writings of an unusual cast of characters from nineteenth-century China and the US. The sequel to this monograph, a work-in-progress called “Untracking Devices,” uses literary theory and literary criticism to develop an alternative, antipositivist sociology of literature for a modern world governed by communicative distanciation, non-verifiability, and incalculable harm. “Untracking Devices” will draw from a wide range of primary literature including texts from the English and American canon, the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, and selections from Chinese poetics and philosophy. 

I am also working on a memoir that doubles as a piece of experimental literary criticism. Tentatively titled An Altering Speech, it meditates on the psychic fallout of China’s Cultural Revolution and the violence of immigrant girlhood through readings of Western literature and art.