Yi-Ping Ong is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. Her teaching focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and philosophy, reflecting interests in the history and theory of the realist novel, modernism, existentialism, and issues of justice and ethics in contemporary Anglophone literature. Recent courses include “The Literature of the Everyday: Realism in the 19th- and 20th-Century Novel”; “Forms of Moral Community: The Post-1950 Anglophone Novel”; and “Literature and/as Ethics.”
Ong received her PhD in November 2009 from the Department of English at Harvard University, where she also completed a MA in Philosophy. Her dissertation, “Existentialism, Realism, and the Novel,” received Harvard’s 2009-2010 Howard Mumford Jones Prize for the best doctoral dissertation concerning some aspect of literature or literary history between 1789 and 1917. Prior to her graduate work at Harvard, she received a BA in Philosophy at Columbia University and a Second BA in Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University.
Her current research centers on questions at the intersection of literature and philosophy. The Art of Being: Poetics of the Novel and Existentialist Philosophy, Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2018, examines issues of authority, freedom, and self-knowledge in the poetics of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century realist novel. It shows that the novel in its classic phase provides the conditions for the reorientation of philosophy towards the meaning of existence. Philosophy in the Golden Age of the Novel further explores the power of literary form to transform philosophical expression. Using biographical, archival, and critical sources, this study asks why thinkers such as Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, and Camus not only read novels, but also employ novelistic techniques of representation to ground their philosophy in the everyday experience of ordinary individuals. Other work in progress examines the poetics of the novel of old age and the relation between ethics and ontology in twentieth-century literature and philosophy.
Ong’s essay, “A View of Life: Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and the Novel,” appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Philosophy and Literature and was awarded the 2009 American Comparative Literature Association’s Horst Frenz Prize for best graduate student conference paper. She has also published on Kafka, Wittgenstein, Beauvoir, Naipaul, Cavell, Mad Men, and the Tao Te Ching. Her short story, “Marriages are Made in Heaven,” was published in the Harvard Review and chosen by Best American Short Stories 2004 as one of the 100 Distinguished Stories of 2003.
She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including an Andrew A. Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and a Stanford Humanities Center External Faculty Fellowship. In 2010, the American Council of Learned Societies selected her as one of fifty New Faculty Fellows in the humanities nationwide. Ong currently serves as co-editor of the Comparative Literature Issue of Modern Language Notes and as a contributing editor to Ordinary Language Philosophyand Literary Studies Online. In 2017, she was elected by the executive committee of the Philosophy and Literature Forum to serve as a delegate on the Modern Language Association Assembly.