Ethan Harkness

Visiting Research Scholar 2014-15

Ethan Harkness teaches at NYU Gallatin and writes about early Chinese culture with an emphasis on technical topics that inform the histories of science and religion. In his methodological approach to research, he also makes extensive use of excavated manuscripts to supplement historical perspectives derived from the transmitted textual tradition. His doctoral dissertation, entitled “Cosmology and the Quotidian: Day Books in Early China,” analyzes a type of almanac that circulated widely in the Chinese cultural sphere between the late fourth century and the late first century BCE. For over ten years, Professor Harkness lived in Taiwan, where in addition to academic research, he actively pursued a number of interests, including bicycle touring and the Chinese strategy game of weiqi.

During the 2014-15 academic year at ISAW, he will be working on a book project based on recently excavated Chinese manuscripts of the 3rd-1st centuries BCE.  In particular, he  will analyze a recovered genre of divinatory almanacs from that period to shed light on changing religious practices and an evolving conception of cosmology that had practical ramifications at all levels of society.