Online Lecture: How to Produce Learning: Some Preliminary Thoughts on Neo-Confucian Knowledge Culture

How to Produce Learning: Some Preliminary Thoughts on Neo-Confucian Knowledge Culture (1200-1700)

Speaker: Dr. Lianbin Dai, Department of Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria

Moderator: Prof. Nathan Vedal, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto

Time: 2:00-3:30 P.M. EST, Wednesday, February 1, 2023


Sponsors: Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, University of Toronto and Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto

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Abstract: Neo-Confucian learning is an elite academic knowledge system and matrix more than a philosophy. Its production was not merely fashioned by economic and political elements but also routinized in its own way independent of other social practices. Its concepts and practice are rooted in the Confucian Classics, corroborated by historical studies, and oriented to social and political engagement. Zhu Xi (1130-1200) systemized the norms for its construction, application, and evolution, which would have dominated the Neo-Confucian discourses of knowledge culture until its collapse in the mid-nineteenth century. His program saw controversies as ideologized in the fifteenth century, encountered challenges by the Yangming school in the sixteenth century, and eventually was recognized and revived in the late seventeenth century. Given its intellectualism and humanistic orientation, Neo-Confucian learning is hard to be defined with the hypothesis of inward turn.

Biography: Dr. Lianbin Dai (Oxonian) is a Sinologist and historian of late imperial China (1368-1911). His research encompasses issues of traditional Chinese knowledge culture (especially history of the Chinese humanities as a whole), including book history and textual practice. Currently, he is finalizing his book manuscript “Learning to Be Learned: Neo-Confucian Knowledge Culture in Late Imperial China” and editing (with Timothy Brook) “China’s Political Economy in the 15th Century: Reading Qiu Jun’s (1421 – 1495) Supplement to “Elaborations on ‘The Great Learning.” He teaches Chinese history, culture, and literature in the Department of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria. Before joining the University of Victoria, he had held positions of teaching and research at York University, University of Alberta Museums, Harvard University, and Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

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