Weaving Text, Warping Time: How the Ontology of Text Shaped Early China


Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowships in China Studies – Long-Term


East Asian Studies


Recently excavated manuscripts have revealed the anonymous and fluid nature of early Chinese texts, discrediting their authorial claims and inciting scholarly debates. My monograph, “In Eternal Lines to Time,” offers a new approach by integrating research in disciplines confronted with similar disputes, ranging from book history to biblical criticism. It proposes a system for analyzing a text’s mode of existence based on whether or not its production and reception are meaningfully separated. This approach not only resolves the conflict between received and excavated sources, but also reconceptualizes the transformations in early Chinese elite textual practices (before 220 CE). Its interdisciplinary engagement demonstrates the relevance of early China to broader inquiries in the humanities.