Monday, July 30, 2018

[Dissertation] Remaking Chineseness: The Transition of Inner Asian Groups in the Central Plain During the Sixteen Kingdoms Period and Northern Dynasties

Fangyi Cheng 程方毅

Victor H. Mair


University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation aims to examine the institutional transitions of the Inner Asian groups in the Central Plain during the Sixteen Kingdoms period and Northern Dynasties. Starting with an examination on the origin and development of Sinicization theory in the West and China, the first major chapter of this dissertation argues the Sinicization theory evolves in the intellectual history of modern times. This chapter, in one hand, offers a different explanation on the origin of the Sinicization theory in both China and the West, and their relationships. In the other hand, it incorporates Sinicization theory into the construction of the historical narrative of Chinese Nationality, and argues the theorization of Sinicization attempted by several scholars in the second half of 20th Century. The second and third major chapters build two case studies regarding the transition of the central and local institutions of the Inner Asian polities in the Central Plain, which are the succession system and the local administrative system. In the first case study, through applying the crown prince system, the Inner Asian rulers reached the centralization of authority, which was different from and even more centralized than the Han tradition. In the second case study, the polities of the Sixteen Kingdoms Period and Northern Dynasties largely followed the Inner Asian political tradition and the Inner Asian groups also remained as units inside the polities. The two case studies show the transition of the institutions of the Inner Asian polity in the Central Plain. The transition is neither a one- way change from Inner Asian institutions to Han and Jin institutions nor a simple hybridity. For different institutions, here the succession system in the central government and the administrative system in the local level, the dynamics for the transition are also not the same. This dissertation approaches the Chinese history with articulating not only what these Inner Asian groups took from the Chinese tradition, but also what they contributed to the institutional changes in Chinese history, which reshapes our understanding of what we call “Chinese” institutions, in other words, Chineseness. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

[Dissertation] The Rhetoric and Ritual of Celestial Signs in Early Imperial China

Jesse Chapman

University of California, Berkeley



The Rhetoric and Ritual of Celestial Signs in Early Imperial China investigates the circulation of signs such as planets in retrograde motion, comets, oddly-shaped clouds, inclement weather, and rainbows in the Western Han (206 BCE–8 CE) and Eastern Han (25–220 CE) dynasties. Building on scholarship in the history of science and previous historical studies of omenology, the present work focuses on the rhetorical and ritual dimensions of celestial signs within broader political, literary, and technical networks. It examines technical treatises in the standard histories, manuscripts on astro-omenology from the tombs of the ruling family of Dai at Mawangdui 馬王堆 (terminus ad quem 168 BCE), memorials to the throne, liturgical repertoires, poetic celestial journeys, and early exegetical works to illuminate how celestial signs both created discursive possibilities and were themselves shaped by generic contexts and performative goals. The dissertation argues that celestial signs became meaningful always in relation to surrounding contexts, as they were read against the constellations in which they appeared, historical circumstances, present conditions in the empire, and through the voices of the deities, supplicants, rulers, and ministers that invoked them. By examining a broad range of contexts in which celestial signs appeared, this dissertation contributes to a fuller and more balanced appreciation of the variegated roles celestial signs played in the shifting culture of early imperial China.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Introduction: Celestial Signs, Culture, and the Cosmos

Chapter 2: Celestial Signs at the Local Court of Dai: The Mawangdui Manuscripts

Chapter 3: Celestial Signs in the Writing of History

Chapter 4: Etiology, Contingency, and Textual Authority: The Suasive Power of Celestial Signs

Chapter 5: Celestial Signs, Ritual, and the Performance of Voice

Chapter 6: Conclusion and Supplement: “Cloudy River” and the Problem of Ritual Failed

Saturday, July 14, 2018

[Conference] All about the Rites: from canonized ritual to ritualized society

Collège de France

June 21 to 22, 2018

Programme :

June 21

Morning (9h -12h30)

9h-9h30 : Introduction générale : Anne Cheng (Collège de France) –Stéphane Feuillas (Université Paris-Diderot).

9h30-10h : Gilles Boileau (Tamkang University, Taiwan) : From Ritual to Text, the Heuristic Value of Improprieties.

10h-10h30 : Michael Ing (Indiana University) : The Liji and a Tragic Theory of Ritual.


11h-11h30 : Yao Xinzhong (Renmin University, Beijing) : The Role of Heaven-Earth in the Ritualization of Society: Tian Di and Ritual in the Book of Rites.

11h30-12h : Michael Puett (Harvard University) : Interpreting Ancestors in the Liji.

12h-12h30 : Scott Cook (Yale-NUS College, Singapore) : Confucius After Hours: A Preliminary Analysis of the “Master at Leisure” Dialogues in the Liji.

Afternoon (14h30-18h)

14h30-15h : Lin Su-chuan 林素娟 (National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan) : Exploring the Music Education Philosophies in the Qin and Han Periods from the Perspectives of “Central and Harmonious Melodies” and “Remaining Melodies” in the “Yueji 樂記” of the Book of Rites.

15h-15h45 : Marianne Bujard (EPHE), “Laisser les morts enterrer leurs morts”: The Confinement of the Tomb in Eastern Han.

Alain Thote (EPHE) : The Funerary Rituals of Early China in the Light of the Archaeological Vestiges from the First Millennium BC.


16h15-16h45 : Michael Nylan (University of California at Berkeley) : Changes to Imperial Rites from Western to Eastern Han.

16h45-17h15 : Frédéric Constant (Université Paris-Ouest) : The Contribution of Zheng Xuan’s Commentaries to the Clarification of Chinese Legal Categories.

17h15-17h45 : Roger Darrobers (Université Paris-Ouest), « Le Yili est le classique, le Liji l’explique » : Zhu Xi 朱熹 et le Yili jingzhuan tongjie 儀禮經傳通解.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Routledge Handbook of Imperial Chinese History

Victor Cunrui Xiong & Kenneth J. Hammond


Publication Date:
August 2018


Following more than 30 years of market reform, China has become an economic powerhouse, likely to surpass the United States as the world's largest economy in the not so distant future. The resurgence of China has generated much interest not only in the present conditions of that country, but also in her past. Since China is the only uninterrupted ancient civilization that is stilling living today, the study of it can be a very rewarding pursuit in its own right, but can also offer tremendous benefit to anyone who wants to gain an in-depth understanding of modern China. Perhaps more than anywhere else, in China, the present is intricately linked with the past. Providing coverage of the entire Imperial Era (221 BCE-1912 CE) the handbook takes a chronological approach with key themes such as politics, religion, culture, the economy, and science embedded in the chapters. This is an essential resource for upper level undergraduates and graduates studying Imperial Chinese history in class or on their own; it will also be of interest to graduate students and scholars interested in broadening the scope of their research.

Table of contents:


Part I: Early Imperial China (Qin–Five Dynasties) 

Section 1 The Qin-Han Empire

1. The Qin Dynasty, Charles Sanft

2. The Western Han, Liang CAI

3. The Eastern Han, Rafe de Crespigny

Section 2 The Six Dynasties

4. The Three States (Three Kingdoms), Michael Farmer

5. The Jin and the Sixteen States, Kawamoto Yoshiaki 川本芳昭

6. The Southern and Northern Dynasties, Andrew Chittick

Section 3 The Sui-Tang Empire and Five Dynasties

7. The Sui Dynasty, Victor Cunrui Xiong

8. The Tang Dynasty I (618-756), Seo Tatsuhiko 妹尾達彥

9. The Tang Dynasty II (756–907), Antony DeBlasi

10. The Five Dynasties, Peter Lorge