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The End of History and the Last Anecdote

This talk analyzes the process of the end of the anecdotes tradition, and what replaced it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

Texts from the Warring States Period to the Western Han Dynasty are full of anecdotes, or brief accounts of events involving actual historical people. The wording of these anecdotes may differ from text to text, and they may use them for different rhetorical purposes, but the basic events remain the same. After the Western Han Dynasty, references to those events became increasingly rare. It seems that as the Western Han Dynasty came to an end, so did a long tradition of discussing and arguing through anecdotes. At the dawn of the Eastern Han Dynasty, a new history was created, with little room for the ancient anecdotes. This work-in-progress paper analyzes the process of the end of the anecdotes tradition, and what replaced it.

 

Paul van Els is associate professor of China Studies at Leiden University in The Netherlands. He specializes in early Chinese thought; that is, in thinkers, texts, and traditions from the Warring States Period to the Western Han Dynasty (roughly: the first five centuries BCE). At Leiden University, he offers lectures and tutorials on early Chinese thought, as well as Classical Chinese language courses. Dr. van Els recently finished a monograph on an ancient Daoist text, the Wenzi, and a two-volume textbook of Classical Chinese titled Van orakelbot tot weblog [From Oracle Bones to Blogs]. More information is available at www.paulvanels.nl.


Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies

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