CFP: AAS 2018 Panel, “Literary Approaches to Early Chinese Philosophy”

Please contact Daniel Fried if you are interested in joining the panel he is proposing. Details follow.

Traditionally, the study of early Chinese philosophy has been bifurcated along a specific methodological axis.  Classical sinology has often focused on issues of textual criticism and reconstruction of certain lines of intellectual filiation between texts and schools, while comparative philosophy has tried instead to extract from these texts certain kinds of issues and truth claims which could intervene in debates often still founded on European texts.  Both of these perspectives are important, and they have never been hermetically sealed, as many scholars have been comfortable working in both modes.  However, this structural orientation of the discipline has encouraged a certain kind of binary vision when approaching early Chinese texts: the proper framing of their philosophical content must either be in terms of the historicity of debate, or of abstracted questions of truth.

It is only relatively recently that scholars have begun to foreground the textuality of these texts in a fashion conducive to the methods of contemporary literary analysis.  How are these works to be considered as books, rather than simply as abstract containers of thought?  Without seeking to circumscribe the category of the “literary”, this panel (to be proposed for the 2018 AAS Annual Conference in Washington D.C.) will seek to build upon this emergent focus by presenting a few new models by which the embeddedness of pre-Qin thought within language can be reconceived.  Possible topics could include such issues as:

  • Rhetorical or discursive analysis of “Masters Literature”
  • The philosophical anecdote as myth/tale/fiction
  • Poetics of gnomic verse passages
  • Gender essentialism and linguistic categories
  • Mohism and Marxism
  • The posthuman and Daoist “transformation”
  • Theories of Warring States intertextuality
  • The philosophical “I” and constructions of subjectivity
  • Philosophy as orature

This may be proposed as either a regular panel or a roundtable, depending upon the level of interest.  Abstract submissions are welcome from all interested scholars.  Please send abstracts (250 word maximum) by July 15 to Daniel Fried,

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