Manuscript Networks and the Evolution of Technical Texts in Early China

Ethan Harkness

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

Ethan Harkness is an Associate Professor of Classical Chinese Studies with joint appointment at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and Department of East Asian Studies. He holds a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago (2011) and focuses his research on technical topics that inform the histories of science and religion with a methodological approach that makes extensive use of excavated Chinese manuscripts dating from the 4th-1st centuries BCE to supplement the perspectives derived from the transmitted textual tradition.

During his stay at ISAW, he will complete the final chapter of his book, Early Chinese Manuscripts and the Establishment of the Qin Empire, which presents detailed case studies illustrating the methods used by the governors of the first Chinese empire to unify the various newly conquered states under their control, both culturally and ideologically. At the same time, he also plans to complete an annotated English translation of a Western Han era “daybook,” a type of hemerological manual that circulated widely throughout the early Chinese cultural sphere and left a lasting impression on the culture even as the manuscripts themselves disappeared around the 1st century CE.

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