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Wenhan Zhang

Postdoctoral Fellow, Comparative Literary Studies

I am planning to defend my dissertation “Conscience under Tyranny: Resistance and the Problem of Judgment in Sixteenth-century English and Scottish Thought” in September 2023. This project was conceived during my graduate study at Northwestern when worldwide political conflicts became increasingly more palpable. We experience, unfortunately, how different forms of tyranny keep posing threats to our society throughout the world; and fortunately, we witness individual consciences heroically—though also problematically in their own ways—resist against their chains. This contemporary reality found its distant echoes on the British Isles in the sixteenth century, which impelled me to research and write with a sense of urgency and curiosity, trying to make sense of the two worlds that oppose yet also resemble each other. The very purpose of comparative literature, I think, is that by placing texts of different time periods, cultural backgrounds and languages against each other, we learn how to make sense of the world around us, and eventually ourselves. I am thrilled to continue my journey at Northwestern as a postdoctoral fellow in CLS this Fall as I work with the brilliant community of scholars and students at Northwestern. This position provides me an invaluable opportunity to revise my dissertation into a monograph and teach four courses: two undergraduate seminars, an introductory course to literary theory, and a course on world literature. I am more than excited to be among friends, and am looking forward to meeting new students.