New Frontiers in the Study of Medieval China

International Symposium: Textuality and Materiality in Medieval China, Peking University

Organizers: LU Yang (Peking University) and YE Wei (Peking University), with assistance from Alexei Ditter (Reed College) and Jessey Choo (Rutgers University) 

Sponsors: Tang Research Foundation, Center for Research on Ancient Chinese History and Department of History at Peking University, Chinese Department at Reed College 

Date: October 17–18, 2017

Symposium Agenda

This international symposium will focus more closely on issues of textuality and materiality in the 5th through 10th centuries, and will be approached from a diverse range of perspectives — artistic, economic, historical, literary and religious. The participants discuss one or more of the following questions in the papers they present:

  1. Defining and delineating “textuality” and “materiality”
    What does it mean to look at these objects and texts in terms of their “textuality” or their “materiality”? How does one’s categorization of and approach towards these materials change when an emphasis is placed on one aspect over another?

  2. Interaction between texts and materials
    How does consideration of a text’s material aspects, as well as its position within its material context, change our perspective and understanding of those texts? For example, how does our understanding of muzhiming change when they are viewed as one among many objects buried in the tomb?

  3. Production of texts and materials
    How does consideration of the context (social, religious, material, political, etc.) within which these texts and materials were produced change how we understand them? For example, what differences might be identified between commemorative texts and objects produced by commission, or by the court or individual families? How might the relative social status of authors, calligraphers, inscribers, and subjects positively or negatively impact the anticipated perception of the deceased?

  4. Consumption of texts and materials
    How were these texts and materials consumed by the contemporary or near-contemporary audiences they nominally might address? In addition to consumption in anticipated ways by those audiences, in what ways were texts and materials consumed for other purposes, or even “re-purposed” to serve new ends?

Symposium format

The format for the symposium will be panels of papers rather than translations. Each panel will include three paper presenters and one panel chair. Each presenter will be allotted 20 minutes for their presentation. Each panel will allow twenty minutes at the end for questions, moderated by the panel chair.

The final panel of the symposium will be a roundtable discussion of the papers presented at the symposium and the larger questions that they, and the symposium in general, seek to address.