Maciej Kurzynski

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in modern Chinese literature and culture. Before coming to Stanford, I received a bachelor’s degree in History of Art from the University of Warsaw and a master’s degree in Literary Theory (文艺学) from Zhejiang University. 

Entitled “Words of Passion: Narrative Technologies of Modern China,” my dissertation integrates natural language processing (NLP) and cognitive narratology to explore the relationship between embodied cognition and the formal side of narratives produced in China during the long twentieth century. Whereas traditional scholarship considers literary artifacts as reflections of distinct ideological systems (e.g., Late Qing, “Mao’s China,” “post-socialism," etc.), the techno-cognitive approach brackets such historiographical categories and instead foregrounds continuities across political divides and epistemic shifts. Drawing upon William Brian Arthur's recursive definition of technology as that which reveals and harnesses natural phenomena, my project anchors narrative form in the transcultural phenomenology of the human body and thus departs from the politicized focus of much previous scholarship. It also offers a corrective to the disembodied paradigm of "distant reading" as it has been conceptualized so far in DH literature. Narrative technologies considered in my dissertation include the aesthetic of the sublime, the trope of suffering woman, the metaphor of the heart (心) as the center of cognitive and emotional life, the pronoun “we” 我们, and the distribution of agency among fictional characters.

At Stanford, I have worked on aesthetic theory in post-1949 China and found my passion for NLP (CS224N), machine learning (CS230), and digital humanities. I am also a member of the Save Cantonese campaign, aiming to restore the Cantonese language program at Stanford, and a recipient of the 2020 Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship (SIGF).




  • “On the Technology of the Sublime in Modern Chinese Narratives,” 数字人文 Shuzi renwen [Journal of Digital Humanities], no. 1 (2022): 87-115 [CNKI, ResearchGate, YouTube]
  • “In Defense of Beauty: Gao Ertai's Aesthetics of Resistance,” Philosophy East and West, no. 4 (2019): 994-1013. [MUSE, ResearchGate]
  • 《格林伯格与审美判断的自由》“Gelinboge yu shenmei panduan de ziyou” [Clement Greenberg and the Freedom of Aesthetic Judgement], 中文学术前沿 Zhongwen xueshu qianyan [Chinese Frontier of Language and Literature], no. 2 (2018): 181-189 [CNKI, ResearchGate]


Research Interests

Research Area(s)