Chunjie Zhang

A picture of Professor Zhang, smiling at the viewer

Position Title
Associate Professor of German
Affiliated Faculty of Comparative Literature
Affiliated Faculty of Cultural Studies
Affiliated Faculty of East Asian Studies
Affiliated Faculty of Critical Theory
Affiliated Faculty of the Study of Religion

404 Sproul Hall

Education and Degree(s)

  • Ph.D., Duke University
  • M.A., Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany
  • B.A., Peking University, China

Research Interest(s)

  • Postcolonial studies, Cosmopolitanism, Transculturality, Global Modernisms

  • Travel Narrative, Philosophy of History, Drama Theory, World Literature

  • Eighteenth Century Studies, Asian-German Studies

  • German and Chinese literature and culture from the 18th to the 20th century

Course(s) Taught

  • GER 101B Introduction to German Literature from 1800 to the Present (taught in German)
  • GER 120 Introduction to German Culture (focus on refugee crisis or on multimediality, taught in German)
  • GER 112 Travel and the Modern World
  • GER 297 Cultural Encounters and Transcultural Imaginations (graduate)
  • GER 297 Cosmopolitanism: History and Meaning (graduate)
  • GER 297 China, Europe, and Representation I: History, Capitalism, and Vitality (graduate)
  • GER/COM 011 Travel and the Modern World (from the eighteenth century to the present)
  • GER 297 China, Europe, and Representation II: Aestheticism, Modernization, and New-Confucian Cosmopolitanism


The core trajectory of my intellectual pursuits has been exploring global perspectives in the study and teaching of literature, culture, and their historical and social context. My research mainly focuses on two areas: 18-century studies and Chinese-German literary and cultural relations. I deem 18-century German culture a unique field with great potentials for researchers to go beyond disciplinary boundaries set by national literature, rethink the issue of German identity, and redefine the richness of German thought within a larger context. Engaging with postcolonial theory, my first book explores representations of non-European cultures in German discourse through the lenses of travel writing, literature, and  philosophy. Furthermore, I am interested in the representations of China in European Enlightenment and Chinese-German comparative cultural relationships in the nineteenth and the twentieth century. My second book project engages with different visions of the global in German and Chinese modernisms. 

Before coming to UC Davis, I was at Columbia University as a postdoctoral fellow and at Montclair State University in New Jersey as an assistant professor.

Selected Publications


Book Cover for Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism

Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, May 2017).

Edited Journal and Book

Composing Modernist Connections in China and Europe. Ed. Chunjie Zhang. (London and New York: Routledge, Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature, 2019, forthcoming)

"Goethe, Worlds, and Literatures." Eds. Daniel Purdy, Stefan Uhlig, and Chunjie Zhang. A special issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, 54, no. 2, May 2018.


"Anna Segher's Ideological Melodrama, Qian Zhongshu's Cosmopolitan Satire, or On Comparison," in Composing Modernist Connections (Routledge, 2019, 32-49, forthcoming)

"Introduction: Latour Compositionism and Global Modernisms," in Composing Modernist Connections (Routledge, 2019, 1-10,  forthcoming) 

"Introduction: Goethe, Worlds, and Literatures," co-authored with Stefan Uhlig, in Seminar: A Jounral of Germanic Studies 54, no. 2, May 2018, 121-32.  

"Garden Empire or the Sublime Politics of the Chinese-Gothic Style," in Goethe Yearbook 25 (2018), 77-96.

"Mathias Christian Sprengel: Slavery, the American Revolution, and Historiography as Radical Enlightenment," The Radical Enlightenment in Germany: A Cultural Perspective, ed. Carl Niekerk (Amsterdam: Brill/Ropodi, 2018, 163-83). 

"Krusoe Robinsons Abenteuer. Technik, Identität und maritimes Bewusstsein in deutschen Robinsonaden um 1800," Pazifikismus. Poetiken des Stillen Ozeans, ed. Johannes Görbert and Mario Kumekawa (Würzburg: Könighausen & Neumann, 2017), 157-172.

"Goethe's Chinesisch-deutsche Jahres- und Tageszeiten: Vernacular Universality, Erotica Sinica and the Temporality of Nachträglichkeit," Reading the Past Across Space and Time: Receptions and World Literature, eds. Brenda Schildgen and Ralph Hexter (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, 245-264).

"The Islander Kadu and Adelbert von Chamisso: Relations in Oceania," The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, 58 (2017), no. 1, 79-98. 

"August von Kotzebue's Bruder Moritz, der Sonderling and German Transcultural Consciousness around 1800,” German Studies Review 38 (2015), no. 1: 1-16.

"Reading Goethe's Elective Affinities through The Story of the Stone: Immanent Divinity, Vegetative Femininity, and Nature's Transience," German Literature as World Literature, ed. Thomas Beebee (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, 25-42).

"Geschichtsphilosophie zwischen Eurozentrismus und Kritik der kolonialen Praxis: Johann Gottfried Herders Auch eine Philosophie der Geschichte zur Bildung der Menschheit,” Herder und seine Wirkung, ed. Michael Maurer (Heidelberg: Synchron, 2014, 361-70).  

"German Indophilia, Femininity, and Transcultural Symbiosis around 1800,” Imagining Germany Imagining Asia: Essays in Asian-German Studies, eds. Veronika Fuechtner and Mary Rhiel (Columbia, SC: Camden House, 2013, 204-19).

"Georg Forster in Tahiti: Sentimentalism, Enlightenment, and the Intrusion of the South Seas,” Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies  36 (2013), no. 2: 263-277.

"From Sinophilia to Sinophobia: China, History, and Recognition,” Colloquia Germanica 2 (2008): 97-110. (actual publication year 2010).

"Das Exotische als Scheinwelt. Die China-Rezeption in Die Blendung von Elias Canetti,” Literaturstraße. Chinesisch-deutsches Jahrbuch für Sprache, Literatur und Kultur 5 (2004): 23-42.

(translated and published as "Social Disintegration and Chinese Culture: The Reception of China in Die Blendung,” The Worlds of Elias Canetti, eds. William Donahue and Julian Preece (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), 127-50.)

Short Essays

"Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House in Lu Xun’s Foreign-Language Book Collections,” Lu Xun Research Monthly 12 (2011): 92-94 (in Chinese).

"Gerhart Hauptmann’s The Weavers in Lu Xun’s Foreign-Language Book Collections,” Lu Xun Research Monthly 11 (2011): 86-87 (in Chinese).

Book Reviews

Review of Hartmut Böhme, Natur und Figur. Goethe im Kontext (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink, 2016), German Quarterly, forthcoming

Review of Norbert Mecklenburg, Goethe. Inter- und transkulturelle poetische Spiele (München: Iudicium, 2014), German Quarterly (90) 2017, no. 1, 92-94. 

Review of Iris Idelson-Shein, Difference of a Different Kind: Jewish Constructions of Race During the Long Eighteenth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies 40 (2017), no. 2, 321-22.  

Review of Qinna Shen and Martin Rosenstock (eds.), Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia (New York: Berghahn Books, 2014), The Germanic Review 90 (2015), issue 3, 1-3.

Review of Sonia Sikka, Herder on Humanities and Cultural Difference (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), German Studies Review 39 (2016), no. 2, 376-78.

Review of David G. John, Bennewitz, Goethe, Faust: German and Intercultural Stagings (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), German Studies Review 39 (2016), no. 1, 165-68. 

Review of Katharina Mommsen, Orient und Okzident sind nicht mehr zu trennen: Goethe und die Weltkulturen (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2012), German Quarterly 86 (2013), 4 (485-87).

Review of Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in the World of Strangers (New York and London: W. W. Norton 2012), China Book Review 中国图书评论 10 (2013): 90-95.  

Review of Elisabeth Johanna Koehn, Daniela Schmidt, Johannes-Georg Schülein, Johannes Weiß, and Paula Wojcik (eds.), Andersheit um 1800. Figuren – Theorien – Darstellungsformen (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2011), German Studies Review 35 (2012), 2: 399-401.

Selected Conference Presentations and Talks

Max Weber, China, Foucault, and the Care of the Self, Universität Göttingen, Germany, May 2018

Empire Studies and Asian German Studies, Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany, November 2017

The De-Political of the Political: Refuge, Identity, and Vulnerability, University of Sydney, Australia, October 2017

Transculturality and German Discourse, Institute of European Studies, University of California, Berkeley, September 2017

Garden Empire or the Sublime Politics of the Chinese-Gothic Style, University of Tokyo, Japan, July 2017

Goethe’s Vernacular Universal, German Studies Association, San Diego, Septmber 2016

Marxism, Moism, and the Philosophical Language in Bertolt Brecht's Novel Me-ti or the Book of Transformation,” International Comparative Literature Association Congress, Vienna, July 2016

Noble Savage, Sexuality and the Lapérouse Expedition in the Pacific,” Transpacific Early America (panel), American Literature Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, May 2016

Transculturality and German Discourse around 1800,” Seminar Enlightenment and Revolution, Humanities Center, Stanford University, April 2016

Krusoe Robinson's Adventure: Technology of the Self and Double Consciousness," Poetiken des Pazifiks, Freie Universität Berlin, July 2015

Adelbert von Chamisso in der Südsee, 1815-1817," Ringvorlesung "Emotion und Ethnizität," Universität Trier, January 2015

Immanuel Kant's Physical Geography: Authorship, Spatiality, and Cosmopolitan Practice," How Radical was the Enlightenment, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, November 7-9, 2013 

World Travel, Relation, and German Transcultural Consciousness around 1800," Annual Conference of American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Cleveland, OH, April 2013 

Connected by Water: The Global Left and Avant-garde Filmmakers from Germany and China in the 1930s," Annual Conference of Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Boston, March 2012

Chinese Gardens in Eighteenth-Century Germany,” Reading China during the German Enlightenment, Pennsylvania State University, February 2012

Orientalism and Female Noble Savage in August von Kotzebue’s East Indians (1789),” Annual Conference of German Studies Association, Louisville, Kentucky, September 2011

Melodramatic Realism and Cosmopolitan Satire: Anna Seghers’s The Wayfarers and Qian Zhongshu’s Fortress Besieged,” NEH Summer Seminar, Stanford University, August 2011

Popularization of the South Seas in German Discourse Around 1800,” Third European Congress on World and Global History, London School of Economics & Political Science, Great Britain, April 2011

August von Kotzebue’s Transnational Melodrama: Sentimentalism, Sexuality, and Refusal of Tragedy in Brother Moritz (1795),” Columbia University, March 2011

Pacific Cannibalism and Cultural Identity in Georg Forster’s Reise um die Welt (1778),” Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, Oakland, CA, October 2010

Georg Forster and Postcolonial Criticism: Natural History, Sentimentalism, and the Intrusion of the South Sea,” Dartmouth College, January 2010

Herder’s China Reception: Intra-European Obsessions or Response to Intercultural Challenges,” Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, Washington, DC, October 2009

From Sinophilia to Sinophobia: the Image of China, the Universal, and the Recognition From Afar,” Workshop “Visions of the World: History, Form, and Function of Universalism,” Duke University, April 2009

August von Kotzebue’s Virgin of the Sun: Colonial Desire or the Challenges of Cultural Differences,” Annual Conference of American Comparative Literature Association, Harvard University, March 2009

August von Kotzebue and Postcolonial Criticism: Sexuality, Sentimentalism and the Refusal of Tragedy,” UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University Departments of German Work in Progress Series, Durham, NC, November 2008

Johann Gottfried Herders Auch eine Philosophie der Geschichte zur Bildung der Menschheit: Geschichtsphilosophie zwischen Eurozentrismus und Kritik an kolonialer Praxis,” Biennial Conference of the International Herder Society, Jena, Germany, August 2008

Herder’s Theory of Historical Empathy,” International Graduate Student Conference Empathy, Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (IFK), Vienna, Austria, July 2008

Between the Critique of Colonial Practice and Eurocentrism: Herder’s Philosophy of History in Auch eine Philosophie der Geschichte zur Bildung der Menschheit,” 61st Annual Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, Lexington, Kentucky, April 2008

Cultural Critique or Eurocentrism: Perception of Foreignness in Johann Gottfried Herder’s Universal Historicism,” Topography of Otherness: 33rd Annual Conference of the Southern Comparative Literature Association, Raleigh, NC, October 2007

Sozialer Zerfall und das Chinesische. Über die China-Rezeption in Canettis Die Blendung,” The Worlds of Elias Canetti, Centenary Conference, University of Kent at Canterbury, UK, July 2005

Honors and Awards

  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, 2018-20

  • DAAD Research Grant, 2017
  • Hellman Fellowship, 2015-2016
  • Volkswagen/Mellon Fellowship, Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany, 2014-2015
  • ETRA Grant for Hybrid Course Development, Academic Technologies Center, UC Davis, 2013
  • Eleanore and Harold Jantz Research Travel Fellowship, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, September 2013
  • NEH Summer Seminar Fellowship, Stanford University, 2011
  • Harper Schmidt Fellowship, Society of Fellows, University of Chicago, 2011-2015 (declined)
  • INTERACT Postdoctoral Fellowship, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University, 2010-2011
  • Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Fellowship for Dissertation Completion and Undergraduate Instruction, Duke University, 2009-2010
  • Campus Activity Grant for Graduate Student Workshop “Visions of the World,” The Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, 2009
  • Summer Research Fellowship, Graduate School, Duke University, 2008
  • Summer Research & Training Fellowship, Duke University Center for International Studies, Duke University, 2005