Saturday, December 22, 2018

Animals Through Chinese History: Earliest Times to 1911

Roel Sterckx
Martina Siebert
Dagmar Schafer

Cambridge University Press

Publication planned for: 
January 2019


This volume opens a door into the rich history of animals in China. As environmental historians turn their attention to expanded chronologies of natural change, something new can be said about human history through animals and about the globally diverse cultural and historical dynamics that have led to perceptions of animals as wild or cultures as civilized. This innovative collection of essays spanning Chinese history reveals how relations between past and present, lived and literary reality, have been central to how information about animals and the natural world has been processed and evaluated in China. Drawing on an extensive array of primary sources, ranging from ritual texts to poetry to veterinary science, this volume explores developments in the human-animal relationship through Chinese history and the ways in which the Chinese have thought about the world with and through animals.

Table of Contents:

Knowing Animals in China’s History: An Introduction  

1. Shang sacrificial animals: material documents and images 
Adam C. Schwartz

2. Animal to edible: the ritualization of animals in early China 
Roel Sterckx

3. Noble creatures: filial and righteous animals in early medieval Confucian thought 
Keith N. Knapp

4. Walking by itself: the singular history of the Chinese cat 
Timothy H. Barrett and Mark Strange

5. Bees in China: a brief cultural history 
David Pattinson

6. Where did the animals go? Presence and absence of livestock in Chinese agricultural treatises 
Francesca Bray

7. Animals as text: producing and consuming 'text-animals' 
Martina Siebert

8. Great plans: Song dynastic (960–1279) institutions for human and veterinary healthcare 
Han Yi and Dagmar Schäfer

9. Animals in nineteenth-century eschatological discourse 
Vincent Goossaert

10. Reconsidering the boundaries: multicultural and multilingual perspectives on the care and management of the emperors' horses in the Qing 
Sare Aricanli

11. Animals as wonders: writing commentaries on monthly ordinances in Qing China 
Zheng Xinxian

12. Reforming the humble pig: pigs, pork and contemporary China 
Mindi Schneider

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Authorship and Text-making in Early China

Hanmo Zhang

De Gruyter

Publication date: 
October 2018


This book is a timely response to a rather urgent call to seek an updated methodology in rereading and reappraising early Chinese texts in light of newly discovered early writings. For a long time, the concept of authorship in the formation and transmission of early Chinese texts has been misunderstood. The nominal author who should mainly function as a guide to text formation and interpretation is considered retrospectively as the originator and writer of the text. This book illustrates that although some notions about the text as the author’s property began to appear in some Eastern Han texts, a strict correlation between the author and the text results from later conceptions of literary history. Before the modern era, there existed a conceptual gap between an author and a writer. A pre-modern Chinese text could have had both an author and a writer, or even multiple authors and multiple writers. This work is the first study addressing these issues by more systematically emphasizing the connection of the text, the author, and the religious and sociopolitical settings in which these issues were embedded. It is expected to constitute a palpable contribution to Chinese studies and the discipline of philology in general.

Table of Contents:

1. Text, Author, and the Function of Authorship

2. The Author as Cultural Hero: The Yellow Emperor, the Symbolic Author

3. The Author as the Head of a Teaching Lineage: Confucius, the Quotable Author

4. The Author as a Patron: Prince of Huainan, the Owner-Author

5. The Author as an Individual Writer: Sima Qian, the Presented Author

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Guicheng: An Archaeological Study of the Formation of States on the Jiaodong Peninsula in Late Bronze-Age China, 1000-500 BCE

Chief Editors: 
Li Feng, Liang Zhonghe

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
The Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Shandong Provincial Academy of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

Beijing: Science Press

Publication date:


Guicheng is an important Bronze-Age city-site of 8 km2 located in Longkou in eastern Shandong. Guicheng enjoyed a high degree of political dominance and cultural diversity until its conquest by the state of Qi in 567 BCE. This Chinese-English full-text bilingual monograph presents the results of the international collaborative archaeological survey and test excavations conducted by Columbia University, the Institute of Archaeology (CASS), and the Shandong Provincial Academy of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in 2007-2011. The book has two volumes: Volumes I includes ten chapters that describe the fieldwork and its results, and related analyses. Volume 2 includes five chapters that review the archaeological discoveries made at the city-site and the surrounding region in 1896-2006, mainly of bronzes, ceramics, and jade objects. 

The book also has three appendices: I. “C14 Dating of the Guicheng City-Site”; II. “Results of Flotation at the Guicheng City-Site”; III. “Animal Remains Discovered during the 2009 Test Excavations”.

Table of Contents:

绪论 李峰 梁中合 (1)


第一章 自然地理环境和地域文化背景 梁中合 (29)

第二章 内城城墙的钻探 唐锦琼 韩辉 李峰 (62)

第三章 内城及城外建筑基址的钻探 韩辉 (102)

第四章 外城城墙的勘察 唐锦琼 (196)

第五章 内城的试掘 徐明江 (321)

第六章 归城全覆盖地面采样调查 李峰 贝丽姿 (478)

第七章 黄水河流域的区域考古调查 梁中合 (565)

第八章 归城考古中的地理配准及钻探数据管理 Jeremiah Trinidad-Christensen 侯昱文(Paul Nicholas Vogt) (641)

第九章 归城陶器的岩相学分析 James B.Stoltman (665)

第十章 构建边缘文化:归城陶器分析 李峰 (689)


第一章 2002年归城内城北部和平村遗址的发掘 赵娟 孙兆锋 (749)

第二章 归城及周边区域青铜器的考古发现与研究综述 王富强 闫旭东 刁鹏 (789)

第三章 归城城址历年出土青铜器调查综述(1980—2010) 刘玉涛 马志敏 (823)

第四章 归城遗址历年发现青铜器出土经过的调查综述 蒋惠民 唐锦琼 (882)

第五章 归城考古的收获和胶东半岛青铜器时代的社会变迁 李峰 (920)


附录一 山东龙口归城城址的碳十四测定 张雪莲 (987)

附录二 山东烟台龙口归城城址浮选结果 赵志军 (988)

附录三 山东龙口市归城城址2009年试掘出土动物遗存研究 李志鹏 任乐乐 TomA Stidham (1001)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

[Dissertation] Prescribing 'Guiding and Pulling': The institutionalisation of therapeutic exercise in Sui China (581–618 CE)

Dolly Yang


University College London


This dissertation investigates the development of therapeutic exercise known as daoyin 導引 (guiding and pulling) during the Sui dynasty (581–618 CE). The main research questions are 1) how and why did daoyin become an important component of state medicine during the Sui period, 2) why was it included systematically in Zhubing yuanhou lun 諸病源候論 (Treatise on the Origins and Symptoms of Medical Disorders), the earliest known nosological text compiled under the decree of the second Sui emperor Yangdi 隋煬帝and 3) in the context of the process of unification during the Sui, what is the larger significance of these initiatives for our understanding of the unique continuities in the history of imperial China?

Central to this research is an investigation into the contemporary political, cultural and religious circumstances that influenced the decisions by the two Sui emperors to adopt therapeutic exercise, which was already widely popular among circles of literate elites and religious sects, into an official medical system. The vision of the second Sui emperor to promote therapeutic exercise as the main component of state medicine, in preference to all other medical treatments, led directly to the transformation of the state medical service with the employment of a disproportionally large number of daoyin specialists to the Sui court. This research argues that the inclusion of daoyin, together with advice on health regimes, under the newly-devised classification of disease in Zhubing yuanhou lun, is one of the most important medical innovations of the Sui. As a vignette that illustrates how the role of the state can extend its reach into social and community practice, this study also has wider implications for how, in contrast to the fragmentation of Europe after the fall of Rome, we understand the continuity of empire in China.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: The social profile of daoyin practitioners before the Sui

Chapter 3: The institutionalisation of therapeutic exercise during the Sui dynasty (581–618 CE)

Chapter 4: The medicalisation of therapeutic exercise in Zhubing yuanhou lun 諸病源候論 (Treatise on the Origins and Symptoms of Medical Disorders)

Chapter 5: Conclusion


Appendix 1: Preface for Mr. Chao’s Overall Treatise on the Origins and 
Symptoms of Medical Disorders 巢氏諸病源候總論序 by Song Shou 宋綬

Appendix 2: The Seventy-one Medical Disorders in Zhubing yuanhou lun based on Ding Guangdi’s 丁光迪 Edition

Appendix 3: Translation of 110 Disease Entries Containing Daoyin Exercises in Zhubing yuanhou lun

Appendix 4: Translation of Taiqing daoyin yangsheng jing 太清導引養生經

Appendix 5: Translation of Sun Simiao’s 孫思邈 Anmo 按摩 Technique of Indian Brahmans’ Method from Qianjin yaofang 千金藥方

Friday, December 7, 2018


髙橋 あやの

Publication date:
December 2018


Table of Contents:

序章 本書の立場
    一 中国における天文学と天の思想  二 科学と術数     三 張衡について
     四 中国古代の宇宙論        五 本書の構成と目的  (参考)張衡年譜

第一章 「渾」の用法に見る渾天説の原義
   一 上古音から見る「渾」の類型   二 「渾天」の用例
   三 古代の文献に見られる「渾」   四 揚雄における「渾」の用法
   五 張衡における「渾」の用法

第二章 『霊憲』と『渾天儀』の比較
   一 『霊憲』と『渾天儀』の比較    二 『渾天儀』は張衡の作か
   三 『霊憲』と『渾天儀』の扱いの相違の要因

第三章 渾天説の天文理論
   一 張衡の渾天説――張衡は地球概念をもっていたか
   二 天文理論の継承と発展

第四章 渾天説と尚水思想
   一 尚水思想の系譜         二 渾天説における尚水思想
  三 張衡と尚水思想と崑崙山     四 天・地・水の思想

第五章 張衡「思玄賦」の世界観
   一 張衡と「思玄賦」        二 「思玄賦」の内容と構成
   三 崑崙と黄帝、西王母の位置    四 天上世界の描写

第六章 張衡と占術
  一 「思玄賦」の占術表現      二 『霊憲』の占術表現
   三 讖緯に対する態度

第七章 張衡佚文の考察
   一 張衡の星・星座・惑星の知識   二 張衡の佚文
   三 張衡佚文と『晋志』、『史記正義』 四 張衡佚文の検討

第八章 『海中占』関連文献に関する基礎的考察
   一 目録中の「海中」諸文献     二 「海中」諸文献の「海中」に対する認識
   三 『海中星占』、『海中占』の佚文  四 『海中占』の占辞の特徴
   五 「海中」の検討         附 『海中占』の輯佚

終章 本書のまとめ

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Early China 41 (2018) 《古代中國》第41期

Table of Contents:

Letter from the Editor


Jao Tsung-I (Rao Zongyi) 饒宗頤 (1917–2018)

Gerhard Schmitt (1933–2017)

Zhang Zhongpei 張忠培 (1934–2017)


History as Future—Time, Prediction, and Historical Narrative
in the Zuo zhuan

Poetry, “The Metal-bound Coffer,” and the Duke of Zhou

The Zhou xun 周訓 and “Elevating the Worthy” (shang xian 尚賢)

Sacrifice vs. Sustenance: Food as a Burial Good in Late
Pre-Imperial and Early Imperial Chinese Tombs
and Its Relation to Funerary Rites

Single- and Multi-Piece Manuscripts in Early Imperial China:
On the Background and Significance of a
Terminological Distinction

Overgrown Courtyards and Tilled Fields: Image-Based Debates on Governance and Body Politics in the Mengzi, Zhuangzi, and Huainanzi

Wanton Goddesses to Unspoken Worthies: Gendered Hermeneutics in the Chu ci zhangju

Identifying the Textual Sources of Shi ji: Reviewing Past
Research for a More Encompassing Methodology

Sunday, November 25, 2018

中国ジェンダー史研究入門 (Introduction to gender history in China)

小浜 正子・下倉 渉・佐々木 愛・高嶋 航・江上 幸子

Publication date:

京都大学学術出版会 Kyoto University Press



Table of Contents:


はじめに―中国史におけるジェンダー秩序 (小浜正子)

第一編 通時的パースペクティブ

Ⅰ期 先秦~隋唐 古典中国―父系社会の形成

はじめに (下倉 渉)

第1章 考古学からみた先秦時代のジェンダー構造 (内田純子)

第2章 父系化する社会 (下倉 渉)

第3章 中国の文学と女性 (佐竹保子)

第4章 唐代の家族 (翁育瑄、三田辰彦訳)

コラム1 史料紹介―敦煌文書にみる妻の離婚、娘の財産相続

コラム2 則天武后とその後 (金子修一)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Dao and Sign in History: Daoist Arche-Semiotics in Ancient and Medieval China

Daniel Fried


Publication date:
November 2018


From its earliest origins in the Dao De Jing, Daoism has been known as a movement that is skeptical of the ability of language to fully express the truth. While many scholars have compared the earliest works of Daoism to language-skeptical movements in twentieth-century European philosophy and have debated to what degree early Daoism does or does not resemble these recent movements, Daniel Fried breaks new ground by examining a much broader array of Daoist materials from ancient and medieval China and showing how these works influenced ideas about language in medieval religion, literature, and politics. Through an extended comparison with a broad sample of European philosophical works, the book explores how ideas about language grow out of a given historical moment and advances a larger argument about how philosophical and religious ideas cannot be divided into “content” and “context.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Reading Sima Qian from Han to Song: The Father of History in Pre-Modern China

Esther S. Klein

Publication Date: 
November 2018



In Father of Chinese History, Esther Klein explores the life and work of the great Han dynasty historian Sima Qian as seen by readers from the Han to the Song dynasties. Today Sima Qian is viewed as both a tragic hero and a literary genius. Premodern responses to him were more equivocal: the complex personal emotions he expressed prompted readers to worry about whether his work as a historian was morally or politically acceptable. Klein demonstrates how controversies over the value and meaning of Sima Qian’s work are intimately bound up with larger questions: How should history be written? What role does individual experience and self-expression play within that process? By what standards can the historian’s choices be judged?

Table of Contents:

Structure of the Book
Historians, Lineages, and Confucian Scholars: Good Problems in Translation

Part 1: Contextualization

1 A Record of Doubts and Difficulties
Sources and Attribution
Who is the Honorable Senior Historian?
Autobiography and Authenticity
Chu Shaosun: A Third Author?
Extreme Textual Damage and Loss
A Conclusion Leading Onward
2 Sima Qian’s Place in the Textual World
Aspects of Self-Description
Early Views of the Shiji
The New Historical Tradition
Sima Qian in the Realm of Literary Prose

Saturday, November 10, 2018

[Dissertation] Mining, Trade and State Formation in Early China

SHI, Tao 石濤


University of California, Los Angeles


This dissertation aims at exploring the trade strategy and center-periphery relations in the process of state formation in early China. The focus is the Longshan and Erlitou periods (ca. 2300–1520 BCE). Instead of a center-based perspective, this research focuses on peripheries and discusses the impact of peripheral societies on the formation of the political-economic landscape of early states. By taking resource extraction and distribution as a departure point, I discuss the production modes, economic forms and social contexts in three resource-rich regions, which were significant sources of key resources in early China. Based on my estimation on scales of mining and mining landscapes, I argue that turquoise and copper mining and mining-related productions were all local, small-scale and village-based activities during the two periods. The current evidence shows that early states did not place direct control over resource extraction and distribution in these peripheral regions. Moreover, based on the arguments and comparative cases in other regions of the world, I further argue that the strategy of resource procurement of early states was never monopolistic. Rather, the Longshan and Erlitou-period states adopted a decentralized strategy to procure key resources. By considering Erlitou as a phenomenon of regeneration after Longshan collapses, I argue that the center-periphery relations maintained a strong continuity in this transitional period.

Table of Contents:

1 Introduction
2 Geographical background
3 Setting the stage: the transition to Chinese Bronze Age
4 Towards a comparative perspective
5 Mining and archaeology in the western Shangluo Corridor
6 Mining and archaeology in the eastern Shangluo Corridor
7 Metallurgical industries in the Jinnan and Middle Yangzi regions: a comparison
8 Discussion

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Confucius and the Analects Revisited: New Perspectives on Composition, Dating, and Authorship

Michael Hunter and Martin Kern

Publication date:
October 2018 



Edited by Michael Hunter and Martin Kern and featuring contributions by preeminent scholars of early China, Confucius and the Analects Revisited: New Perspectives on Composition, Dating, and Authorship critically examines the long-standing debates surrounding the history of the Analects, for two millennia considered the most authoritative source of the teachings of Confucius (551–479 BCE). Unlike most previous scholarship, it does not take the traditional view of the Analects’ origins as given. Instead, it explores the validity and the implications of recent revisionist critiques from historical, philosophical, and literary perspectives, and further draws on recently discovered ancient manuscripts and new technological advances in the Digital Humanities. As such, it opens up new ways for productive engagement with the text. 

Table of Contents:

 Michael Hunter and Martin Kern

1 A Critical Overview of Some Contemporary Chinese Perspectives on the Composition and Date of Lunyu
 John Makeham

2 The Lunyu as an Accretion Text
 Robert Eno

3 The Lunyu as Western Han Text
 Michael Hunter

4 Confucius and His Disciples in the Lunyu: The Basis for the Traditional View
 Paul R. Goldin

5 The Lunyu, a Homeless Dog in Intellectual History: On the Dating of Discourses on Confucius’s Success and Failure
 Joachim Gentz

6 Confucius’s Sayings Entombed: On Two Han Dynasty Bamboo Lunyu Manuscripts
 Paul van Els

7 Manuscript Formats and Textual Structure in Early China
 Matthias L. Richter

8 Interlocutor Collections, the Lunyu, and Proto-Lunyu Texts
 Mark Csikszentmihalyi

9 Sima Qian’s Kongzi and the Western Han Lunyu
 Esther Klein

10 Kongzi as Author in the Han
 Martin Kern

Sunday, October 28, 2018

[Dissertation] Divination And Deviation: The Problem Of Prediction And Personal Freedom In Early China

Yunwoo Song

University of Pennsylvania

Date of Award:


The question I address in my dissertation relates to the conundrum of the prediction of fate in early China. How did the early Chinese people predict the future, and to what degree did they believe that the predicted future is inevitable? I examine the history of divination from the Shang to the Han dynasties to show that the belief in the power of anthropomorphic spirits weakened, and the universe was gradually conceived of as working in regular cycles. The decreasing reliance on the power of spirits during the Shang period is reflected in changes in bone divination. And divination texts from the Warring States period come to describe the movements of spirits as being completely regulated by cosmic cycles. This changed conception of the universe contributed to the formation of the idea of a predetermined fate. My analysis of various philosophical literature of the Warring States period shows how the meaning of the term ming 命 changed from unpredictable events caused by superior powers to a predictable yet unalterable course of life. As a consequence of this changed meaning, Han dynasty scholars needed to address the problem of personal freedom. I show that while philosophers like Wang Chong argued for what is probably the most extreme case of fatalism in early China, many other thinkers of the time chose to believe that while there is a predetermined course of life for everyone, the course is always subject to change depending on circumstances.

The conclusion I draw from these analyses is that the idea of a completely predetermined fate did not gain wide acceptance in early China because strong fatalism conflicted with popular divination practices. Even though many acknowledged that people are born with a predetermined fate, they opted to believe that their fates could still change. Thus, various divination techniques available at the time could help them evade predicted misfortune.

Table of Contents:

Diminishing Power of Spirits in Divination – From Oracle Bone to Yarrow
Prognostications Based on Cycles
The Emergence of the Notion of Predetermined Fate
Fate and Freedom in Han Thought

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Early Medieval China Volume 24 (2018)

Table of Contents:


Robert Joe Cutter: Gastropoetics in the Jian’an Period: Food and Memory in Early Medieval China

Robert Ford Campany: Miracle Tales as Scripture Reception: A Case Study Involving The Lotus Sutra in China, 370–750 CE

Zornica Kirkova: Sacred Mountains, Abandoned Women and Upright Officials – Facets of the Incense Burner in Early Chinese Poetry

Ignacio Villagran: “Sturdy Boulders That Protect the Realm”: Early Medieval Chinese Thinkers On Decentralized Governance.

Wicky W.K. Tse: Fabricating Legitimacy in a Peripheral Regime: Regionalism and Loyalism in the Northwestern Borderlands under the Rule of the Zhang Dynasty (301-376)


Monday, October 22, 2018

Geopolitics in Late Antiquity: The Fate of Superpowers from China to Rome

Hyun Jin Kim


Publication date:
October, 2018

Geopolitics in Late Antiquity explores the geopolitical revolution which shook the foundations of the ancient world, the dawning of the millennium of Inner Asian dominance and virtual monopoly of world power (with interludes) that began with the rise of the Huns and then continued under the hegemony of various other steppe peoples. Kim examines first the geopolitical situation created by the rise of Inner Asian powers, and then the reactions of the great empires of Eurasia to this geopolitical challenge.

A unique feature of this book is its in-depth analysis of the geostrategies (some successful, others misguided) adopted by China, Rome and Persia to cope with the growing Inner Asian threat. The conclusions and insights drawn from this analysis are then used to inform modern geopolitics, mainly the contest for hegemonic power between the United States and China.

Geopolitics in Late Antiquity is a crucial resource for both academic and learned general readership, who have an interest in the fate of antiquity’s superpowers and also for those engaged in current international relations policy-making, who wish to learn from historical precedents.

Table of Contents:

1 Introduction
1.1 The great geopolitical dilemma, theoretical approaches
1.2 Territorial disputes and retrenchment, the re-emergence of policymaking
1.3 Summary

2 The Geopolitical Situation: The Superpowers and the Huns
2.1 Han China and the Huns
2.2. Rome and the Huns
2.3 Sassanian Persia and the Huns

3 The Superpower Reaction
3.1 China strikes back
3.2 Rome falters
3.3 Persian Collapse

4 Conclusion: The Geostrategic Choices for the Future
China as the geopolitical equivalent of the great Turco-Mongol Empires of Eurasia
The geostrategic options for the US
Select Bibliography

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Philosophical Thought of Wang Chong

McLeod, Alexus

Publication date:
September 2018

Palgrave Macmillan


This book is a study of the methodological, metaphysical, and epistemological work of the Eastern Han Dynasty period scholar Wang Chong. It presents Wang’s philosophical thought as a unique and syncretic culmination of a number of ideas developed in earlier Han and Warring States philosophy.  Wang’s philosophical methodology and his theories of truth, knowledge, and will and determinism offer solutions to a number of problems in the early Chinese tradition.  His views also have much to offer contemporary philosophy, suggesting new ways of thinking about familiar problems.  While Wang is best known as a critic and skeptic, Alexus McLeod argues that these aspects of his thought form only a part of a larger positive project, aimed at discerning truth in a variety of senses.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Wang Chong and Philosophy in Early China

Background, Writings, and Influence

Philosophical and Critical Method

Truth: Properties and Pluralism


Free Will, Allotment, and Inborn Characteristics

Conclusion: The Significance of Wang Chong’s Philosophical Thought

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

[Dissertation] Cultural Encounters: Ethnic Complexity and Material Expression in Fifth-Century Pingcheng, China

ZHANG, Fan 張帆

New York University



My dissertation focuses on art and material culture produced in the city of Pingcheng, the capital of the Northern Wei dynasty (386–535 CE) during the fifth century. A city of immigrants from diverse social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, Pingcheng was an unusually fertile land for vigorous cultural exchanges. Through investigation into material remains, from both funerary and religious contexts, and textual sources, both transmitted and excavated, my research delineate multiple ethnicity, artistic innovation, and cross-cultural interactions of Pingcheng. I adopt an interdisciplinary approach that combines art history, archaeology, and history to examine how individuals articulate their identities in a multiethnic society via various visual and material forms. Built on top of a set comprehensive archaeological data, this project highlights three tombs for in-depth case studies, including funerary portraits that display identities of the deceased, innovative burial furniture that crosses ethnic boundaries and showcases Pingcheng’s syncretism, and exotic silverwares that exemplify the intensive cultural exchange between East and Central Asia.

My dissertation challenges the Sino-centric perspective and Han/non-Han binary division. By investigating artistic productions associated with individuals, I explore the mediating role art plays in the social network and the process of identity articulation. My research situates Northern Wei art in a trans-cultural context of Eurasia by tracking movements of objects and migration of people. My emphasis on material culture also expands the scope of art historical study by including less-studied genres and experimenting with a trans-medium approach to conceptualize funerary art.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Paradigm Shifts in Early and Modern Chinese Religion: A History

John Lagerwey


Publication date:
October 2018


From the fifth century BC to the present and dealing with the Three Teachings (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) as well as popular religion, this introduction to the eight-volume Early and Modern Chinese Religion explores key ideas and events in four periods of paradigm shift in the intertwined histories of Chinese religion, politics, and culture. It shows how, in the Chinese church-state, elite processes of rationalization, interiorization, and secularization are at work in every period of major change and how popular religion gradually emerges to a position of dominance by means of a long history of at once resisting, adapting to, and collaborating with elite-driven change. Topics covered include ritual, scripture, philosophy, state policy, medicine, sacred geography, gender, and the economy. 

Table of Contents:



Intellectual Change in the Warring States and Han (481 BC–220 AD)

Religious Transformation in the Period of Division (220–589 AD)

Religion and Thought in the Song, Jin, and Yuan (960–1368)

Structuring Values 1850–2015

By Way of Conclusion

Sunday, October 14, 2018

[Dissertation] In Tune With The Cosmos: Tuning Theory, Cosmology, And Concepts Of Sound In Early China

Noa Hegesh

University of Pennsylvania

Date of Award:


This dissertation explores tuning theories, concepts of sound, and their relation to cosmology in China between the mid-third century B.C.E. and the first century C.E. My overall argument is twofold: First, I argue that to truly understand musical thought in early China, we must realize that it was perceived as a technology. Sound and tuning, especially in a cosmological context, were often discussed in mathematical terms. Second, I argue that for the same reason, we must understand how this technology functioned not only in relation to musical performance per se, but also in what we consider today as non-musical settings, such as mathematical astronomy, the standardization of weights and measures, and divination techniques. Early Chinese authors thought about sound as resonating qi emanating from the cosmos. Its calculation, manipulation, categorization, and measuring were central to the synchronization between the human and cosmic realms.

Part one of the dissertation discusses the gradual introduction of cosmological ideas into existing musical systems around the mid-third century B.C.E. As a result, some texts began discussing sound in numerical terms, as part of theories that aimed to measure the regularities of cosmic processes. Part two explores developments in acoustics and the concept of cosmological sound, through an analysis of a case study from the Western Han: Jing Fang 京房 and his tuning theory, which divided the octave into sixty tuning standards. I also provide an annotated translation of the first section of the “Treatises on Tuning Standards and Mathematical Astronomy” (“Lüli zhi” 律歷志) in the History of the Later Han. Part Three explores the concept of imperial control in Wang Mang’s brief Xin dynasty, examining the connections between sound, metrological practices, and the ideologies and philosophies that provided cosmological meaning to metrological choices. I argue that despite the court’s rhetoric of universal standardization, anchored in the dimensions of the Huangzhong pitch pipe, in reality these acts of standardization may not have succeeded far beyond the court’s immediate sphere of influence.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Chinese Pleasure Book

Michael Nylan

Zone Books

Publication date:
October 2018

In The Chinese Pleasure Book, Michael Nylan takes up one of the most important themes in Chinese thought: the relation of pleasurable activities to bodily health and the health of the body politic. In a notable contrast to Western writings on the subject, early Chinese writings oppose pleasure not with pain but with insecurity. All assume that it is right and proper to seek and take pleasure, as well as short-term delight, and all are equally certain that long-term relational pleasures are more easily sustained―as well as potentially more satisfying and less damaging. The pleasures that become deeper and more ingrained over the long term, as one invests time and effort into their cultivation, include friendship and music, sharing with others, developing integrity and greater clarity, reading and classical learning, and going home. Nylan explores each of these fields of activity through the early sources (mainly fourth century BC to the eleventh century AD), providing new translations for both well-known and seldom-cited texts.

Table of Contents:
Chapter one: coming attractions
Chapter two: good vibrations
Chapter three: Mencius
Chapter four: Xunxi
Chapter five: vital matters 
Chapter six: on Yang Xiong
Chapter seven: semidetached lodgings

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Emergence of Civilizational Consciousness in Early China: History Word by Word

Uffe Bergeton


Publication date:
October 2018


This book provides a conceptual history of the emergence of civilizational consciousness in early China. Focusing on how words are used in pre-Qín (before 221 BCE) texts to construct identities and negotiate relationships between a 'civilised self' and 'uncivilised others', it provides a re-examination of the origins and development of these ideas.

By adopting a novel approach to determining when civilizational consciousness emerged in pre-Qín China, this book analyzes this question in ways that establish a fresh hermeneutical dialogue between Chinese and modern European understandings of 'civilization.' Whereas previous studies have used archaeological data to place its origin somewhere between 3000 BCE and 1000 BCE, this book explores changes in word meanings in texts from the pre-Qín period to reject this view. Instead, this book dates the emergence of civilizational consciousness in China to around 2,500 years ago. In the process, new chronologies of the coining of Old Chinese terms such as ‘customs,’ ‘barbarians,’ and ‘the Great ones,’ are proposed, which challenge anachronistic assumptions about these terms in earlier studies.

Examining important Chinese classics, such as the Analects, the Mencius and the Mozi, as well as key historical periods and figures in the context of the concept of ‘civilization,’ this book will useful to students and scholars of Chinese and Asian history.

Table of Contents:


1. The Coining of Civilizational Consciousness in Modern Western Europe

2. From ‘Awe-Inspiringly Beautiful’ to ‘Morally Refined’— The Coining of ‘Civility’ in Pre-Qín China

3. Coiners and Critics of ‘Civility/Civilization’ (Wén)

4. Inventing the ‘Barbarian’: From ‘Belligerent Others’ to ‘Civilizationally Inferior Others’

5. Ethnographic Vocabulary of Civilizational Otherness: The ‘Elegant’ ‘Rites’ of the ‘Great Ones’ Versus the ‘Vulgar’ ‘Customs’ of the ‘Barbarians’