Václav Zheng

Main Advisor: Professor Maciejko

I am a historical theorist and a cultural historian of East-Central Europe. On the theory side, I am preparing a number of essays on the philosophy of historiography that critique contemporary historical practice with a new post-narrativist approach. I look at various topics such as intra-poetic influences, the temporal structure, and the discursive nature of historical writing. The overall goal is to bring historian-scholars back to the center and rethink history as an argumentative literature about the past.

My dissertation, tentatively entitled “Young Zamość: Polish Utopia and Urban Mentality at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century, 1572-1629,” examines the early years of the “Renaissance town” Zamość (founded in 1580). I ask not only how this ideal city was realized and fostered, but also what kinds of future orientation were embedded in the minds of his first companion-residents, including the Zamoyski family, invited intellectuals and professors, students in the Academy, Polish workers, and foreign merchants. What did this new-born baby-town bring to his childhood friends and vice versa? How did human experience and urban experience intersect and interact? Was Zamość a truly utopian island/experiment in early modern Europe? 

In my free time, I enjoy reading West Slavic literature and all classic works from the good old days.