Václav Zheng

I am a historical theorist and a cultural historian of East-Central Europe. On the theory side, I am working on a few article projects on the philosophy of historiography that critique contemporary historical practice with a new postnarrativist approach. I look at various topics such as influences among historians, the temporal structure, and the discursive nature of historical writing. The overall goal is to bring historians back to the center and rethink history as argumentative literature about the past.

My dissertation, tentatively entitled “Humanizing Zamość: The Polish Mentality and Lifelong Experiences at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century,” examines the cultural experience of the “ideal” town Zamość (f.1580) and explores the collective mentality of Polish intellectuals of the age. I ask why this town was so successfully realized, vitalized and epitomized in Polish history and how we can “humanize” Zamość in different ways beyond its material entity. By doing that, I hope to de-reify urban history with a more cultural, intellectual, and literary understanding of urbanization.

Meanwhile, I am initiating a family history project that unearths a “picohistory” of Sino-Ukrainian encounters in Soviet Kharkiv. In my free time, I enjoy reading modern West Slavic literature. 

Main Advisor: Professor Maciejko