Sascha Bru (KU Leuven)

Sascha Bru is a Belgian scholar of Russian and Romanian descent. He is a professor at the Arts Faculty of the University of Leuven. Bru has a strong interest in European culture, and in European avant-garde culture in particular.

Avant-garde culture in the broadest sense denotes all cultural practices that combine experimentation with a radical intent to re-imagine the world. Such practices can be found in many areas of culture, yet Bru is particularly drawn to their manifestations within the arts. Bru also reflects on later twentieth-century avant-garde practices and on our current, twenty-first-century moment.

Bru’s work serves a double purpose. On the one hand, it aims to help disclose the history of Europe’s artistic avant-garde within a global setting so that we come to better understand its past: its richness, complexity and conditions of possibility. On the other hand, Bru is interested in facets of avant-garde culture which we have not yet fully come to terms with and which could still inform cultural practice today or in the future. Bru is actively involved in many research initiatives in avant-garde studies throughout Europe. In 2008 he also helped found a trilingual (English-French-German) European Network of Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM), of which he later became the chair.

Tsitsi Ella Jaji (Duke University)

Tsitsi Ella Jaji is an associate professor of English at Duke University with expertise in African and African American literary and cultural studies, with special interests in music, poetry, and black feminisms. She previously taught at University of Pennsylvania and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities/Schomburg Center, Mellon Foundation, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, and National Humanities Center.

Her book, Africa in Stereo: Music, Modernism and Pan-African Solidarity (Oxford), won the African Literature Association’s First Book Prize, as well as honorable mentions from the American Comparative Literature Association and Society for Ethnomusicology. The book traces how exchanges between African American, Ghanaian, Senegalese and South African artists shaped cultural and political liberation projects. She is now at work on two new projects: Cassava Westerns is a study of how global Black writers and artists reimagine the American frontier myth to serve new, local purposes. The second, Classic Black is a study of poetry set to music by black concert music composers. Jaji has received a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation to pursue musicology studies in support of this project. Originally from Zimbabwe, Jaji is also a poet. Her most recent collection, Mother Tongues (2019) was awarded the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Prize.

Xudong Zhang (New York University)

Xudong Zhang is Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies at NYU. He is the founding director of the International Center for Critical Theory (ICCT), which co-organizes the Winter Institute series with University of Tokyo, Australian National University, and University of Bonn, Germany. He has published widely on critical theory and transcultural comparisons of Chinese and European modernities.

Zhang’s research interests include critical theory; modernism and modernity; theories of representation, narrative, and interpretation; political philosophy; aesthetics; and twentieth century Chinese literature and culture. Of his ongoing concerns are literary criticism and theory as poetics, socio-ontology, and historiography in one; identity and identity-formation in politico-philosophical and cultural-civilizational contexts; a theory of comparison and comparability; and methodological reconsiderations of area studies. Publishing in both English- and Chinese-speaking worlds, he is currently at work on manuscripts on Hegel’s aesthetics; Lu Xun; and the second volume of/sequel to his 2005/06 book, Cultural Politics in the Age of Globalization.

Zhang is a recipient of the New Institute Fellowship, Hamburg, 2022-23.  He is a member of the Berggruen Network; and of the Academic Advisory Committee of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences at Peking University. He is also                                                the founding Director of the International Center for Critical Theory (ICCT) at NYU.