Jack Chen

Associate Professor of Chinese Literature

I knew that I loved literature from a young age, reading everything from Marvel comic books to Jane Austen. As a college student, I somehow managed to read James Joyce’s Ulysses twice, along with most of T.S. Eliot’s poetry and plays, and a fair chunk of Wallace Stevens, before taking a (now) more than twenty-year detour into the thickets of classical Chinese literature, particularly the poetry of the Han through Tang dynasties. For the last couple of years, I’ve co-directed the Humanities Informatics Lab at UVA and have been thinking about how information technologies shape our cultures, both past and present.

I wanted to join the College Fellows to be able to teach and think about subjects that are outside of the East Asian cultural sphere and yet may also be illuminated by a knowledge of non-Western traditions. I’m interested in topics that allow us to consider larger questions of how we understand our world, what the limits of our knowledge might be, and how we relate to one another as human beings. I believe that serious, sustained, and thoughtful conversation is what underlies a humanistic education and that learning how to read and think is a lifelong endeavor. I am looking forward to meeting you over the course of the next two years.