Wenbin Gao

Wenbin Gao's picture
Humanities Quad, 5th Floor

My research can be divided into two categories in terms of methodology. My more conventional work is in the area of intellectual history, where I study how ideas cross national and linguistic boundaries. I am interested in how the Renaissance influenced areas outside of Europe, especially China and Russia. I also maintain a strong interest in theology, philosophy of religion, secularism and global Catholicism.

My less conventional work is centered around the problem of language, especially poetic language and its forms (prosody, syntax, irregular sentences, rhetorical devices etc). I am convinced that existing methods in literary criticism are insufficient to define poetry and explain its intense affective powers, and a strong intervention from linguistics, philosophy of language and even mathematical logic is necessary. Given the experimental nature and immense technical difficulties of this work, I welcome collaboration from people with a strong background in these fields. Email me!

I am an experienced literary translator, and I have always been hyper-focused on the issue of poetic forms and their (un)translatability. I work mainly in three languages: English, Italian and Chinese. Currently I am translating Renaissance Italian verse drama into English.

Outside the US, I have worked regularly for isixiang.com, a major Chinese public humanities platform where I publish interviews and essays in areas of my interest. I am also involved in Kẻ Sĩ—a public humanities initiative in Vietnam.