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Early China

Thinking through Agriculture in Early China (Prof Roel Sterckx)

This project examines how agriculture formed a leading component in an ideological narrative that described China’s transition from a world of chaos and division to one of political unification, order and social control. Warring States, Qin and Han texts often describe farming life as a model for a stable society, and the image of the peasant embodied an amalgam of values and human psychology. We are interested in exploring how agricultural thought served as a catalyst in early Chinese philosophy and how it inspired debates that shaped the political economy of the time.

Wealth and Poverty in Traditional China (Prof Roel Sterckx)

Ideas about the creation of wealth, social progress, poverty and exclusion are historically contingent in China and elsewhere. This project seeks to examine changing perceptions of wealth, profit, and poverty, and innovative efforts to overcome structural obstacles to wealth creation in early China.

Ecology and Philosophy in Early China (Prof Roel Sterckx)

At the heart of this project is the relationship between philosophical, religious and socio-political ideas related to the natural world and state policy. We are interested in how ideology affects the management of natural resources such as parks, forests, waterways, fauna, flora etc. The project adheres to a broad understanding of the notion of “environment”. We do not merely mean to study Chinese understandings of climate or natural events such as floods or droughts or conceive of nature simply as that part of the world left untouched by human action. 

Political Perceptions of Disease in Early China (Prof Roel Sterckx)

The body, disease, illness and the physician’s intervention frequently serve as metaphors and analogies in early Chinese political discourse. We are interested in how medical imagery was used as a referent beyond the physical, how it was used to describe the body politic, and how invoking illness or incapacity was used as a strategy for political survival in the Warring States, Qin and Han periods.

Classical Chinese through the Deductive Method (Prof Roel Sterckx and Dr Imre Galambos)

Conventional grammars of classical Chinese introduce the language through syntax, lexicon, and, sometimes, phonology. In this project, we are exploring alternative learning experiences that focus on pattern recognition through lists and memory aids based on etymological and content-based anecdote and juxtaposition. This is a long-term project drawing on classroom experience. The aim is to develop our results into a textbook or online reader for students of classical and literary Chinese.   

 

PhD Research Projects:

Regionalism and Regional Identity in the Southwest Territories of China in the Eastern Han Dynasty (Hajnalka Pejsue Elias, PhD student)

This research examines the issue of regionalism and regional identity in the southwest territories of China, in particular the area occupied by the former Shu and Ba cultures of present-day Sichuan, during the Eastern Han dynasty (25 – 220 A.D.). 

The Idea of Work in Early China (Yang FU, PhD project completed in 2016)

This study examines early Chinese attitudes towards “work” in its cultural context. As a practice of the history of mentality, it attempts to deepen our understanding of early China as well as offer comparative materials to the humanities and social sciences in general.

The Confucian Apocrypha (Man Tak KWOK, PhD student)

My current research is concerns the Confucian apocrypha. From my understanding, this term has often been used to refer to two different concepts: chen (prognostication) and wei (weft books). I intend to differentiate between them and focus on the textual history of the latter in traditional China.

Musical Thought in Early China (Avital Rom, PhD student)

This research focuses on textual references to music in early China, and mostly in the Warring States and Western Han periods. I look at textual musical references as possible rhetorical tools, and aim to demonstrate how the musical culture of Warring States and Han societies reflects their culture as a whole.