Skip to main content

Anthony Zhang

Research Postgraduate

Research Postgraduate in the Department of English Studies


About Me

I am a Ph.D. student in Durham University’s Department of English Studies (since Jan 2024), supervised by Dr. Susan Valladares and co-supervised by Dr. Helen O’Connell, working on Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy.

Before joining Durham, I studied in Peking University’s Department of Chinese Language and Literature (BA, 2016-2020) and its Institute of Comparative Literature and Comparative Culture (MA, 2020-2023, supervised by Professor Zhang Pei). My graduate research focuses on Shakespearean Drama, with a master thesis titled “‘Disembedding’ the Comedy Genre: A Study of Shakespeare’s Problem Plays.”

During the final year of my master’s program, I served as a teaching assistant for the graduate course ‘Western Literary Theory in the 20th Century’. Additionally, I conducted the tutorial class for the undergraduate course ‘Comparative Literature: An Introduction.’ I also had the opportunity to be an exchange student at Leuven University for the academic year 2021-2022.

Having been raised in Hong Kong, I have been serving as a Cantonese lecturer at Peking University since 2018. I was also once the Freshers Coordinator for the school’s Hong Kong Culture Association.



Research Topics

My current research focuses on the English Comedy in Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Literature, specifically on the interplays between the history of genre and socio-economic development over the period. The research aims to suggest possible approaches to the multivalent relationships and interactions between the changing English society and the renconfiguring comedy genre, and to clarify the many and varied ways the genre worked and responded socially as well as ideologically to the realities of its time.

Shakespearean Drama, and to a larger scale, English Early Modern Drama, mainly comedy, is another research field I am still proceeding with, as inherited from my master’s research. I have recently been working on a Chinese annotated edition of All’s Wells That Ends Well.



Other Research Interests

It is my general interest in the History of Genre and Genre Theory. That means, reading how, in particular historical and social conditions, each form struggles to create an artistic-literary world of its own by interpreting the varying modes of conscious, and, in contrast, or parallel, how the ideological import of a genre conflicts with the ideological implications of the material condition, as the vehicles for ideological contestation and social changes; and to examine how the contemporaries and the descendants identify them.

On top of this, as a Comparatist, I have an essential research interest in the cross-cultural study of the Genesis of Genres in Chinese Early Modern Literature, in which the genres developed over this period were either directly imported from foreign, mainly European, literature, or "modernised-westernised" in local origin genres. My interest is particularly in the Chinese reception and interpretation of European/Western literature ideas (poetics) and movements through Japanese intellectuals' translation and introduction as the medium, extending the previous scholarship, which only built dialogue between any two of the three cultures.

Indeed, I regard genre study as a natural and necessary research field in Comparative Literature, even if not involving cross-cultural study, as a genre's membership is always and only determined by comparison and relation. A writer is constantly reconfiguring and reconstructing the literary form while appealing to its predecessors or sources for conventions to suit his creative genius, literary traditions and reader's expectations, and the socio-ideological-material conditions. Thus, genre always builds a dialogue between contemporary and traditional, literary space and material reality, author and receptor, conforming to the essence of Comparative Literature.

Last but not least, I have an interest in the History of Literature and Its Writing. Investigating the historical formation and canonisation of a particular nation/culture's history of literature within cultural/intercultural contexts, as well as the perspectives and writing strategies of a literary historian's production, again builds a dialogue between modern views and classic objects. It allows me to examine the various possible ways to identify the nature and characters of a literary tradition in this comparative perspective, interpret their meanings and limits, and understand what and why we are reading, thus demanding us to build another dialogue with such conscious of such tradition and reflects on our literary history view and literature concept.

To conclude, all these reviews and reinterpretations of the nature and essence of a historical being through dialogue with them under modern view and recoveries of the dialogue between the historical objects with hindsight could be described as a perspective of "Classical Interpretation and/through Modern Criticism," which is the primary self-identification of all my research interests.

I welcome any enquiries about my research and potential collaboration opportunities, please feel free to contact via email:


Research interests

  • Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century English Comedy
  • Shakespearean Drama
  • History of Genre and Genre Theory
  • Genesis of Genre in Modern Chinese Literature: A Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • Comparative Literature
  • History of Literature and Its Writing