The Interpretive Principles of Qing Scholars– Bernhard Karlgren’s Critique 
Magnus Ribbing Gren (Princeton, Ph.D.) 
Philological, linguistic, and literary techniques can support a wide range of readings – conservative or iconoclastic – of any given text. Therefore, scholars rely on interpretive principles to guide their choices. These principles, spoken or unspoken, reflect a certain understanding of history, social context, and the nature of texts. In his work on the Shijing and the Shangshu, Swedish sinologist Bernhard Karlgren (1889–1978) established a set of principles that forced him to reject many of the readings suggested by Qing philologists. By identifying where Karlgren’s interpretive principles clashed with those of his predecessors, this paper contributes to a better understanding of the worldview that guided Qing dynasty classicism – and how it differs from our own.  


Exploring Disability and Bodily Impairments in Early Chinese History: Methods, Topics, and Questions 
Avital Rom 艾葦婷
University of Cambridge 劍橋大學
The upcoming edited volume Other Bodies: Disability and Bodily Impairment in Early China (Routledge) sets out to engage comprehensively with questions relating to the topic of disability in Chinese antiquity. From the Analects to the Zhuangzi, from political accounts transmitted throughout millennia of textual history to newly excavated legal documents — early Chinese sources reveal a multi-layered, complex picture of what can be interpreted as notions of ‘disability’ in early Chinese history. Susan Burch and Michael Rembis have referred to the study of disability history as a field that enables scholars “to re-member (or reconstitute) the past.” Aiming to re-think the Chinese past through the prism of impairment and disability, the volume deals with a wide array of questions ranging from definitional queries to legal, political, and social ones. Juxtaposing discussions from Disability Studies with case studies and textual examples from early Chinese sources (particularly examples drawn from some of the works collated in the volume), this paper will discuss some of the methodological, terminological, intellectual, and even moral challenges facing us in our attempt to provide, for the first time, a lengthy discussion on the history of disability in early China.  
Physiognomy and the Reduplication of the Imperial Body in Han Historical Texts
Jianjun He 何建軍
University of Kentucky 肯塔基大學
A form of divination, physiognomy was closely linked to politics in early texts such as Zuozhuan and Guoyu. By reading the body and interpreting bodily features as political signs, physiognomy transformed the physical body into a political reference and provided predictions and advice for a broad range of political concerns. This current paper examines how the politicization of the body by means of physiognomy was systematized and intensified in Han era. By focusing on the reduplication of the imperial body, I argue that in Han historical texts the bodies of Han rulers were mystified and reduplicated in order to demonstrate the Han imperial legitimacy. In Han historical narratives, symbolic meanings of the ruler’s body were highlighted, and the body of the ruler was integrated with the body of the state. Physiognomy was manipulated to create political myths that read the physical sings of Han imperial bodies as evidence of their heavenly authority. At the same time, Han historical texts pointed to the physical resemblances between Han emperors and legendary kings in high antiquity as genetic evidence for the unquestionable power of the Han emperors. The reduplication of the Han imperial body was thus presented as a visual manifestation of the Han rule.


Book Description:

The Jesuit mission to China more than four hundred years ago has been the subject of sustained scholarly investigation for centuries. Focusing on the concepts of friendship and hospitality as they were both theorized and practiced by the Jesuit missionaries and their Confucian hosts, this book offers a new, comparative, and deconstructive reading of the interaction between these two vastly different cultures. Dongfeng Xu analyzes how the Jesuits presented their concept of friendship to achieve their evangelical goals and how the Confucians reacted in turn by either displaying or denying hospitality. Challenging the hierarchical view in traditional discourse on friendship and hospitality by revealing the irreducible otherness as the condition of possibility of the two concepts, Xu argues that one legacy of the Jesuit-Confucian encounter has been the shared recognition that cultural differences are what both motivated and conditioned cross-cultural exchanges and understandings.


Cui bono? Ancient Chinese Manuscripts and the Notion of “Performance supports” 

Maddalena Poli 梅林
PhD 博士
East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania 賓夕法尼亞大學東亞語言與文明學系

The field of early China has been transformed dramatically by the study of hundreds of bamboo manuscripts produced during the earliest intellectually influential period in Chinese history, the Warring States (475–221 BCE). These manuscripts injected into the field new evidence for the study of manuscript production, Old Chinese language, intellectual histories, and the history of textual transmission. My research strikes a balance between points of detail and broad research questions. Focusing on manuscripts concerning historical narratives and philosophical debates, I look at specific textual structures, linguistic features, and intertextual parallels, to then ask the big questions: What would make someone write and consume texts with these properties? In what context, and for what purpose, would these texts be relevant? In this paper, I answer these questions with examples from Warring States manuscripts. I present the notion of “performance supports” to describe these manuscripts as texts that served as aide-mémoires, written canvas for oral debates, and tools to learn skills required for literary composition. Through this prism, ancient manuscripts take on a new life as witnesses of multifaceted cultural practices of which only the written medium has survived.
The Symbolism of the Zuozhong Game board  

Huang Ru-Xuan 黃儒宣
Assistant Research Fellow 助研究員
Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica 中央研究院歷史語言研究所
The shape and the characteristics of the zuozhong 左冢 game board are consistent with the liubo 六博 game boards unearthed at tombs from the state of Chu in the Warring States period. Furthermore, the pattern of the zuozhong game board is the same as that of the sai 塞 game called “gewu” 格五 in the received literature and represented in stone reliefs of the Han dynasty. These findings suggest that the zuozhong game board is in fact a sai game board. The composition of the concentric square of the zuozhong game board may reflect the concept of the jifu 畿服 (territorial division) system: the inner and outer frames represent the “internal” and “external” systems,  respectively; the central circle denotes “the center of the earth,” “the center of the realm,” and “the center of all under heaven,” which was chosen by the Son of Heaven as the site for the royal city; the perpendicular roads which form a cross at the center connote “Zhouhang” 周行 and “Zhoudao” 周道, the highest-level roads connecting the Zhou royal court to the outside. Furthermore, the words found in the innermost square represent the laws of the Son of Heaven, those of the fourth square indicate the feudal system of vassal states, and those of the fifth portray the barbarians. In this way, the pattern and words jointly show the political geography of the Warring States period.
Laughter and Lamentation: Eastern Han (25 – 220 C.E.) Entertainers from Southwest China
喜與悲:中國西南部的東漢(25 – 220)表演者

Hajni Elias 薛好佩
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow 研究員和附屬講師
Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge 劍橋大學亞洲和中東研究學院和藝術史學院

Figures of entertainers, referred to in modern scholarship as ‘story tellers (shuochang yong 說唱俑)’ are well known from Eastern Han (25 -220 C.E.) tombs from the Southwest, present day Sichuan province. Depicted with comical facial expressions, either with a joyous smile or with a lugubrious countenance and often in exaggerated poses, they convey humour and arouse curiosity. This talk seeks to understand this group of mingqi figures which were often placed in the company of musicians, dancers and acrobats as part of the baixi 百戲 performers in the tomb. While they may be familiar to us, the art form they practiced, their contribution to China’s early entertainment culture and their significance to the Southwest’s mortuary practices remain little explored. Through the examination of their physical characteristics, combined with references found in early textual sources, this talk also addresses some of the misconceptions associated with Sichuan’s early entertainers.  
今天中國西南四川省的東漢(25 -220)墓穴出土了一些著名,且被當代學者稱為「說唱俑」的表演者人像。這些人像有著諸如高興地笑或哀傷的面容等滑稽的表情,而且時常擺出誇張的姿勢。它們具有幽默感,且讓人感到好奇。在這次演講中,我將試圖理解這些在墓穴中經常和音樂家、舞蹈員、和雜技演員作為百戲表演者一員而被放置在一起的明器人像。儘管我們對它們或有一定的認識,但它們所表演出來的藝術形式、它們對中國早期娛樂文化的貢獻、以及它們對中國西南部喪葬儀式的重要性只引起很少的討論。通過考察它們在形態上的特徵、並結合早期文獻中相關的描述,這次演講將同時處理人們一些與四川早期表演者有關的誤解。


The Lever Schema: Technical Knowledge and Social Thought in Warring States China

ZHOU Boqun 周博群博士
Assistant Professor 助理教授
The University of Hong Kong 香港大學

In this talk, I explore the impact of mechanics on Warring States thought by examining how schematized knowledge of the lever (quan 權) provides structures for (re)organizing social experience in a rapidly changing world. The lever’s dual function of weighing and weight-lifting, analyzed in the Mohist Canon, become metaphors for ethical weighing in moral dilemmas and strategic leverage in political and military competitions. As a result, philosophical uses of quan divide into a value-rational conception of practical wisdom and an instrumental-rational conception of cunning intelligence. To illustrate the second category of meaning, I will discuss how Shen Dao uses lever metaphors to conceptualize political control in his philosophy.
Language and Gender in Chan Buddhism: Toward a Tropology of Chinese Religion
Kevin Buckelew
Assistant Professor
Northwestern University
How do particular turns of figurative language shape the rhetorical force of religious literature in China? The question is especially pertinent for the study of Chinese Buddhist literature in particular. On the one hand, Mahayana Buddhism idealizes total mastery over language and its effect on listeners or readers through the concept of a buddha’s or bodhisattva’s “skillful means.” On the other hand, Buddhist texts routinely warn that language, if misused, can be dangerous. Perhaps no Chinese Buddhist tradition has been more attentive to the danger of language than the Chan 禪school. A great deal of classical Chan literature revolves around the question of how to communicate a form of truth that is understood to be ultimately ineffable. In this literature, to be an authentic Chan master is to exercise buddha-like command over language, and that ideal is routinely contrasted with the ordinary person’s hopeless subjection to language’s capricious movements. In this paper, I closely read several key passages from Chan literature outlining ideals of Chan mastery in terms of control over language. I show how these passages rely on a pattern of metaphorical tropes that serve to characterize control of language as masculine, decisive, and truly alive. In turn, the danger of being controlled by language is cast as feminine, indecisive, and ghostly. I propose, first, that the metaphors invoked in these passages are essential and not incidental to their rhetorical force, which means that we cannot think about Chan attitudes toward language without also considering how those attitudes are bound up with particular ideas about gender (among other things). Second, I suggest that these examples also point toward the potential usefulness of what we might call a tropological approach to Chinese religious literature.
Light and Darkness in Early Daoism

Roy Porat 
Visiting Scholar, Brown University
Visiting Assistant Professor, Wesleyan University

An interesting feature of the language of many Daoist texts is their atypical idealization of Darkness and Obscurity, which contrasts with the positive connotations of Light and Clarity in virtually all great philosophical traditions. In my talk I will discuss the ways by which this counterintuitive sympathy towards the “dark side” could have reflected several of the philosophical principles that characterized early Daoism, and address an interesting finding which suggests that this unique terminology might have played an even more important role in the earlier stages of the Daoist tradition: comparing the use of the Light/Darkness symbolism in the different versions of the Laozi reveals that while the received text uses both metaphorical schemes to roughly the same extent, the presumably earlier Guodian version lacks almost all of the “bright” references that appear in later recensions, thus constituting a much “darker” version of the text. As I suggest, this terminological shift – from dark to brightness – might have reflected a more general process of philosophical deradicalization Daoism had undergone in the earliest stages of its formation, traces of which can be found in other texts as well. As time allows, I will discuss some of the implications of this suggestion on our understanding of the Laozi itself, as well as on the second chapter of the Zhuangzi, the Qiwulun.

Liang Cai (University of Notre Dame)
Innocent Convicts and the Unlawful Commoners: The Conception of Justice in Early Imperial China (221 BCE -9 CE)
Early Imperial China formed the foundation of the legal system for two millennia of Chinese dynastic history. This paper aims to explore the philosophical conception of justice in lieu of the mutual responsibility system and imperial amnesty in early China. The mutual responsibility system was a major principle applied in legal practice throughout the Qin-Han dynasties until the 20th century. From excavated legal statutes to legal cases in traditional sources, we find that the mutual responsibility system produced a large number of innocent convicts. It openly punished the lawful, including family members, neighbors, and friends of the offenders. Whereas the mutual responsibility principle produced innocent convicts, the imperial amnesty created unlawful commoners. The emperor frequently issued empire wide amnesties, extensively freeing those who were condemned, including men who received the death penalty. Taking those prominent legal practices as a background, this paper will explore how thinkers, officials, and emperors perceived justice in general and legal justice in particular in early China. In what social and historical contexts, did men talk about gong公 (fair/public) and gongping 公平 (fair and balanced), gongzheng 公正 (fair and upright, just) and zhengyi 正義 (upright and righteous; justice)? Was the discussion of justice totally absent in major schools of Chinese thought, including Confucianism, Daoism, or legalist teachings? If not, how would those thinkers comment on, negotiate with, and compromise on the routine legal practices that were not ‘just’ by nature?

Trenton Wilson (Yale University)
Empire over Luck: Law, Luck, and the Limits of Favor
In this paper, I show how, in a diverse number of early Chinese texts, political order, in general, and legal order, in particular, were conceived as means to eliminate luck and favor (xing 幸). Showing favor (also xing 幸), however, was at the same time an important part of the ethical vocabulary of empire and the rhetorical presentation of imperial rule. By focusing on the problem of luck/favor, I will show the tensions and contours of thinking about order in the imperial period, with some reference to pre-imperial ideas as well.

Hafner Arnd Helmut (Meiji University)

David B. Honey 韓大偉 (Brigham Young University 楊百翰大學)
This talk presents the results of the last 15 years of my research on the history of Chinese classical Scholarship. To date, three volumes in English have been published by Academica Press: Vol. 1 Zhou Dynasty: Confucius, The Six Classics, and Scholastic Transmission; Vol. 2: Qin, Han, Wei, Jin: Canon and Commentary; Vol 3: Northern and Southern Dynasties, Sui, and Early Tang: The Decline of Factual Philology and the Rise of Speculative Hermeneutics. Vols. 4 and 5 will treat the Qing dynasty. I shall explain the motivations behind this series, sketch the contents of each volume, introduce the philological disciplines developed during each era, and focus on introducing the scholarly approaches and interpretive paradigms I adopted from modern histories of classical scholarship in the West. Comparative glances between traditional Chinese and Western classicists pervade the presentation.
我在這次演講中將會講述我在過去15年來有關中國經學史的研究。直至目前為止,英文版已有三卷由Academica Press出版:《卷一:周代:孔子、《六經》、與師承問題》、《卷二:秦、漢、魏、晉:經與傳》、和《卷三:南北朝、隋、與初唐:文獻學的衰落與詮釋學的崛興》。卷四與卷五將會討論清代。我將會解釋這套叢書背後的動機、概述每卷的內容、介紹每個時期文獻學的發展、並集中介紹那些我所採用,現代西方學者就經學所撰的歷史中所使用到的方法與詮釋範式。這次演講將會不時簡單地比較傳統中西方的經學家。

Yegor Grebnev 葛覺智 (Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai 北京師範大學珠海校區)
Revisiting the History of Daoism through Early Chinese Scriptures (shu 書)
This talk focuses on the previously ignored connection between the Warring States scriptures (shu 書) and Daoism, particularly the esoteric textual traditions commonly identified with “religious Daoism”. Although Daoism is still commonly described as a tradition of detached philosophical speculation (as a philosophy) and innocent otherworldly fantasies (as a religion), the groundbreaking works of Anna Seidel have highlighted its political dimension reflected in the continuing preoccupation with royal legitimacy. However, Seidel shared the conventional opinion that the history of Daoism as a religious tradition only begins in the Eastern Han, and the sources examined by her belong to the medieval period. In this talk, I shall demonstrate that Seidel’s observations can be extended to the Western Han and the Warring States periods, and the precursors of Daoist esoteric textual traditions can be identified in the scriptural (shu) texts, preserved today in such collections as the Shang shu 尚書 and the Yi Zhou shu 逸周書.

FENG Shengli 馮勝利
(Beijing Language and Culture University 北京語言大學 / Chinese University of Hong Kong 香港中文大學)
On Philology as Science——A case study of Qian-Jia Libi 理必 (Logical Certainty)
In the 16th century, Western science made a great leap. Meanwhile, in China, the scholars of textual criticism including Gu Yanwu (1613-1682), Dai Zhen (1724-1777), Duan Yucai (1735-1815), Wang Niansun (1744-1832) also facilitated the development of scientific reasoning (Hu Shi 1967). However, what are science and scientific reasoning? In this paper, it is argued that science is a deductive system that can be verified, falsified and experimentalized, thus the notion of Libi 理必 (logical certainty) initiated by Dai Zhen represents a new era of scientific reasoning in their philological studies. Like the linguistic science created by N. Chomsky today, the philological science was created by Dai Zhen in the Qian-Jia period. The former has changed the academic paradigm from a structuralist view to a generative enterprise; the latter established a new paradigm of the libi reasoning through out Qing Dynasty but was barely kept by the Zhang-Huang school today (同源孳乳词、声韵相挟、文献语言学、韵律形态学句法学) . The argument made here claims that although the scientific principle of logic certainty is a newly developed indigenous rationalism in Chinese intellectual history created and practiced by the Qian-Jia scholars, it has almost been lost: neither recognized in Ying-shih Yu 余英时’s work on Chinese intellectual history nor practiced and entertained by scholars of contemporary Chinese exegesis, philology, linguistics as well as other social studies.

HUANG Kuan-yun 黃冠雲 (National Sun Yat-sen University 國立中山大學)
The Qianlong Emperor and the Birth of Philology
This presentation is an analysis of three essays by the Qing emperor Qianlong (r. 1735 – 1796).  For this “Son of Heaven, Man of the World,” the Neo-Confucian thinkers Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi espoused a radical position that poses a direct challenge to the authority of the ruler.  The Qianlong Emperor took notice of this, rejected it, and proceeded to denounce more generally the style of learning associated with those philosophers, which ultimately promoted and gave rise to a contrasting, more evidential approach.  Herein lies the birth of Philology, the modern academic discipline as it has come into its own in the context of China.  There is a dark underside to it.  Understanding that dark underside allows us to rediscover some options in philological research that we have never been able to consider. 

Ori Sela 石敖睿 (Tel Aviv University 特拉維夫大學)
Between Imperial and Private Science: Scholars, Philology, and Ritual in the 18th Century

(To be shared upon request.)

For an observer’s report 工作坊述評 by He Yingtian 何映天 (Princeton University 普林斯頓大學), please click here.

Our sincere thanks to Maddalena Poli for her kind help with poster design.