Berkeley English Faculty

Dora Zhang

Dora Zhang

Associate Professor

Wheeler Hall, room 442
dyzhang@berkeley.edu


Professional Statement

My research interests focus on Anglo-American and European modernist fiction, literature and philosophy, novel theory, affect theory, visual culture, and aesthetics. More recently, my worked has turned to contemporary literature, especially Asian American and Asian diasporic literature.

My first book, Strange Likeness: Description and the Modernist Novel, appeared in 2020 from the University of Chicago Press as part of the "Thinking Literature" series. It turns to some experiments of modernist form in order to reinvigorate our thinking about the ubiquitous but still under-theoreized category of novelistic description. I have also written on topics including Proust and photography, Woolf and the philosophy of language, the role of atmospheres in everyday life, and Roland Barthes's travels in China.

Current projects include an essay on the detail and type in unmarked fiction (works that withhold some key information, e.g. gender or race, about their protagonists); and a new edited and annotated edition of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One’s Own, with an introduction, for the Norton Library, forthcoming in 2024.

Education

Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Princeton University 

B.A., Philosophy, University of Toronto.


Books
Strange Likeness: Description and the Modernist Novel
Strange Likeness: Description and the Modernist Novel

The modern novel, so the story goes, thinks poorly of mere description—what Virginia Woolf called “that ugly, that clumsy, that incongruous tool.” As a result, critics have largely neglected description as a feature of novelistic innovation during th....(read more)


Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

Articles and Book Chapters

"In Search of Lost Weather," Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, ed. Katherine Elkins (“Oxford Studies in Philosophy and Literature” series, Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

"Stream of Consciousness," Oxford Handbook of Virginia Woolf (Oxford University Press, 2021).

"Staying Alive" (on Ling Ma's Severance), Post 45 Contemporaries, October 2020

Strange Likeness: Description and the Modernist Novel (University of Chicago Press, 2020).

"Notes on Atmosphere," Qui Parle 27:1 (2018), 121 - 155. 

"Modernist Setting," co-authored introduction to cluster on "Setting" co-edited with Hannah Freed-Thall, Modernism/modernity Print Plus, March 2018

"Naming the Indescribable: James, Russell, Woolf and the Limits of Description," New Literary History 45.1 (Winter 2014), 51-70. Winner of the 2013 Ralph Cohen Prize.

"A Lens for an Eye: Photography and Proust," Representations 118 (Spring 2012), 103-125.

Other Writing

"Always Already Translated" Public Books, August 2016

"Love, Loot, and Lit" The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 2015

"Melancholy Surprise: Marcel Proust's Collected Poems" Los Angeles Review of Books, July 2013

"The Sideways Gaze: Roland Barthes's Travels in China" Los Angeles Review of Books, June 2012 (translated into German and reprinted in Merkur)

"Small Talk" The Point, 2012 (translated into French and reprinted in Nouveau Projet)

Other Media

Interview about atmospheres, How to Read podcast

Interview about Strange LikenessNew Books Network podcast

Interview about my Comparative Literature course, "The Good Life," Think About It podcast

 


English Department Classes