William Cheung

PhD Candidate, Department of German, GSAS

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (October 3 - November 18):

Cheung’s dissertation focuses on how one might read and fairly account for representations of minority people in German and world literature. With a specific focus on three turn of the 20th century writers, Walter Benjamin, Peter Altenberg, and Rainer Maria Rilke, he will demonstrate the political and social stakes involved in literature's encounter with "the other". This touches on and is informed by larger, interdisciplinary issues in political science and social theory, since the appearance of marginal people in literature and the increasingly globalized world more broadly both challenge and shore up established conceptions of what constitutes the nation and threat, citizen and foreign, inside and outside. With each of his authors, Cheung argues that the representations of minority people can be read as a call for more transnational identifications in an era of dissolving nation states. Moreover, as an Asian-American raised in New York himself, he is especially keyed into representations of Chinese people in world literature. Especially as a means by which Europeans reflexively come to understand themselves as Europe began to encounter China during the 20th century through commodity trade and the appearance of minority people in large European cities. Cheung hopes to connect his European author's own experience of modernization with that of the China they often represent. This will mean conducting archival research at NYU's Shanghai site in order to juxtapose the past of the city with its globalized present. 

Last Name
Fellows Type
GRI Fellowship
GRI Fellows semester
Fall 2019