Wang, Yinan profile pic MA Candidate – Class of 2018

I grew up and completed my undergraduate studies in Beijing, but have also lived and attended schools in Shanghai and Hong Kong. I majored in German Studies in college, which awakened my interest in the continental intellectual tradition in social sciences and humanities in general. My senior thesis attempted to explore the modern individual’s position in, and relation to her community by applying theories of social and political recognition to Franz Kafka’s last, most serene short story Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk. My interest in thinking about issues in world politics were augmented by familiarization with the European postwar efforts and explorations to set up new economic and political arrangements, in which Germany has been integral. Outside of academics I have worked at local publications where I enjoyed the intellectual exercise of discerning true issues from merely passing topics, while internship at NPOs focused my attention on institutional improvements that may offer more opportunities for residents in less developed areas of the country.

Research Interests

Growing up in a society where narrative of history is often presented, at least in the public sphere, in the singular, I’ve always been drawn to the discovery of the multiplicity of histories, along with the varied interpretations of them. As someone who have felt intellectual affinities for value systems outside of my native culture, acquired through engagement with literary cultures and experience of living in different places, I’m also curious about the pitfalls of embracing or rejecting blindly the “universality” of certain core values, which some claim may either fuel or impede a “global” future. Implicated in the search for answers to these somewhat disjointed intellectual inquiries is of course “the global”. By shifting my attention from where best to seek illuminations on questions that I care about to how these questions arose, I would come face to face with another area of intellectual fascination, namely, the relationship between aesthetic orientation and political judgement. How did I detect the disingenuousness of the dominant, agenda-infused narrative and develop a desire to seek alternative ones, without the help of any directly available evidence? The most convincing answer to me would be that I found the style of discourse associated with the dominant narrative, and the way everyone was expected to have a uniform emotional response to such discourse, to be aesthetically sterile and repugnant. Could this almost visceral response be the more fundamental element in judgement exercised in the public sphere? Would I be able to have any meaningful political discussion, democratic or otherwise, with people who do not share that aesthetic orientation or find it incomprehensible? Do I feel safe in trusting other people with making decisions through a democratic political process? It seems to me that these are rather interesting and valid questions, given the current political climate in many parts of the world.

Education

  • B.A., German Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University, 2012-2016