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CCCC Spring 2017

Du Heng
Photo of Heng Du

Ph.D. candidate in Chinese History, Harvard University

"What Was Writing For? Transmission Scenes in Warring States Excavated Manuscripts"

March 3, 2017

Heng Du presented a reading of an excavated bamboo strip manuscript from the Warring States Period (475–221 B.C.E.), focusing on the role of writing by royals. She paired her reading of the manuscript with selections from a variety of texts from the same period such as the Mozi 《墨子》 and the Liji 《禮記》, highlighting similarities in the treatment of the transmission of texts.

Richard VanNess Simmons
Photo of Richard VanNess Simmons

Professor of Chinese, Rutgers University

"The Charms of Mandarin in the Qīng and the Key to Northern and Southern Guānhuà"

April 14, 2017 

Professor Simmons presented a phonetic reading of the famous Qing Dynasty novel, Flowers in the Mirror 《鏡花緣》(Jing Hua Yuan), focusing on the notorious thirty-first chapter, which includes an arcane pronunciation table for the language of an imaginary kingdom featured in the novel. Professor Simmons used the table to reconstruct the sounds of the language, arguing that the chapter reveals the author Li Ruzhen's (李汝珍) prowess as a phonetician.

Francesca Bray
Picture of Francesca Bray

Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh; 2016-17 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecturer, Cornell East Asia Program

"Of Turnips and Apricots: Livelihood and Lifestyle in the Northern Wei as Seen through the Agricultural Treatise Qimin Yaoshu《齊民要術》"

April 21, 2017

In coordination with her Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture on the role of "maintainers" in the history of technology, Professor Bray presented a reading of the ancient agricultural treatise, Qimin Yaoshu《齊民要術》. Professor Bray's reading focused in part on the role of agricultural technology in the lives of the people of the state of Northern Wei (386-534 A.D.). One of the questions that arose during her presentation was the role of agricultural knowledge in maintaining the legitimacy of the ruling class.

Clarence Lee
Photo of Clarence Lee

Ph.D. Candidate in Asian Studies, Cornell University

"Reading Sinitic Medical Texts in Mid Edo period Japan: Kagawa Shūtoku (1683-1755)"

May 5, 2017

Clarence Lee gave a guided reading of early modern Japanese philosophical and medical texts, outlining the wide circulation of texts written in classical Chinese in eighteenth-century Japan. He focused in particular on a medical text dealing with a condition where patients routinely refused food, using his reading to challenge our present-day transparent use of terms such as “anorexia." Clarence's reading brought the participants into discussions at the borders of Science and Technology Studies and translation studies, highlighting the role of classical Chinese to cross interdisciplinary borders.