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Reading, Information, and Quantification in Traditional China

DAY 2 of a TWO-DAY EVENT. A Luce/ACLS Collaborative Reading Workshop organized by Jack W. Chen (UCLA) and Christopher M. B. Nugent (Williams College)

Saturday, May 31, 2014
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Young Research Library Presentation Room

Reading, Information, and Quantification in Traditional China
A Luce/ACLS Collaborative Reading Workshop, 2-Day Event

Organized by Jack W. Chen (UCLA) and Christopher M. B. Nugent (Williams College)

Sponsored by the Luce Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Department of Asian Languages & Cultures at UCLA, and the UCLA Asia Institute.

Saturday, May 31, 2014 / Young Research Library Presentation Room

9:30–11:00 Session Four: On Reading a Large Bounded Corpus

Sarah Allen (Wellesley College) and Natasha Heller (UCLA), “On Reading the Taiping guangji 太平廣記”

The Taiping guangji (Broad records of the Taiping reign era) was a compilation of over 500 classical tales — ones that did not fit the canonical standards of the Taiping yulan 太平御覽 (Imperial browsings of the Taiping reign era), the anthology compiled for “imperial browsing.”  While individual tales from this anthology have been read and discussed, there is as yet no attempt at a macroscale reading of the entire anthology, one that not only discusses the organization of data by the total work, but also the complex relationships among the tales and what might be considered their thematic topologies.

11:00–11:20 Coffee Break

11:20–12:50 Session Five: On Reading a Large Unbounded Corpus

Bruce Rusk (University of British Columbia) and Yuming He (UC Davis), “On Reading Late Imperial Guidebooks to Elite Taste”

If the reading of the Taiping guangji presents a difficult exercise due to scale, this problem is magnified when dealing with an unbounded corpus — one defined not by a common editorial intelligence, but by a common thematic concern.  During the late Ming and early Qing, a vast number of commercial publications appeared, many of which promised readers insight into elite taste, particularly in matters of the decorative arts.  There have been impressionistic accounts of these publications, but thus far no systematic analysis of how such commercial works repurposed earlier material and represented them as standalone titles, serial publications, and sections of larger encyclopedic works.

12:50–2:00 Lunch

2:00–3:30 General Discussion of Next Steps


Sponsor(s): Asia Institute