Nan Z. Da, Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, will be visiting the Department of English & Comparative Literature as part of the Critical Speaker Series. She will deliver a talk entitled “Tracking Devices: King Lear and Modern China” on Wednesday, March 4, at 3 p.m., in Wilson Library’s Pleasants Assembly Room. She will then lead a seminar on “Literary Critical Justice” on Thursday, March 5, at 3:30 p.m., in Greenlaw’s Donovan Lounge. Both events are free and open to the public.

Da specializes in nineteenth-century American and Chinese literature, but her work sprawls across many fields and theoretical debates. Da’s scholarship explores global, human phenomena that can only be accessed through literary interpretation. Her articles have appeared in American Literary History, Comparative Literature, Critical Inquiry, J19, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Signs, and the Times Literary Supplement, among others. With Anahid Nersessian, Associate Professor English at UCLA, Da edits Thinking Literature, a series of monographs in literary criticism published by the University of Chicago Press.

Da’s first book, Intransitive Encounter (2018), theorizes a form of self-contained cross-culturalism in the context of nineteenth-century Sino-US literary exchanges and, looking forward, proposes a model of future Sino-US relations based on these self-contained exchanges rather than on global conflict or or premature celebrations of hybridity.

She is currently working on a sequel to Intransitive Encounter called “Tracking Devices.” Taking off from Stanley Cavell’s observation that King Lear’s Cordelia functions as a “tracking device,” Da seeks to map what literature is good at logging and what literary criticism is good at keeping track of. She is also working on a piece of autobiographical experimental criticism tentatively entitled That No Harm Will Come to Harmless Things.

The Critical Speaker Series features innovative scholars from across the literary humanities, showcasing their contributions for the University community and the broader public.

Photograph of Nan Z. Da
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