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Cornell Classical Chinese Colloquium: Man Xu

Friday, March 22, 2024 at 3:30pm to 5:30pm

Rockefeller Hall, 374 Asian Studies Lounge
Central Campus

Epitaphs Made Widely Available by Man Xu, History, Tufts University

The Cornell Classical Chinese Colloquium (CCCC) 古文品讀 , a reading group for scholars interested in premodern Sinographic text (古文), is welcomes Man Xu, History, Tufts University to lead this month's Classical Chinese text-reading.

Man writes: The style and content of epitaphs not surprisingly changed over time. Epitaphs preserved in Song collected works differ from Tang examples in emphasizing their subjects’ education, character, and career achievements. The individualized Song style set the tone for epitaph writing in late imperial China. In recent years, more than one hundred newly discovered epitaphs from Luzhou, Shanxi, a peripheral region in north China, are changing our understanding of this Tang-Song shift in epitaph writing. For more than a century after the beginning of the Song, Luzhou epitaphs remained anonymously authored and lacking in detail. They record subjects’ prestigious distant ancestors, employ archaic language, and adopt flamboyant metaphors and rhetoric. All these stylized features point to a surprising Tang-Song cultural continuity that historians had not detected earlier. The typical “Song-style” epitaphs did not appear in Luzhou until the second half of the eleventh century, when the local elite had better educational opportunities and became participants in the national elite culture.

The group meets monthly during the semester to explore a variety of classical Chinese texts and styles. Other premodern texts linked to classical Chinese in Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese have been explored. Presentations include works from the earliest times to the 20th century. Workshop sessions are led by local, national, and international scholars.  Participants with any level of classical Chinese experience are welcome to attend.  

  • At each session, a presenter guides the group in a reading of a classical Chinese text. Attendees discuss historical, literary, linguistic, and other aspects of the text, working together to resolve difficulties in comprehension and translation.

  • No preparation is required; all texts will be distributed at the meeting.

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Event Type



Asian Studies, East Asia Program


East Asia program, asianstudiescal



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

TJ Hinrichs, Suyoung Son


Man Xu

Speaker Affiliation

History, Tufts University

Speaker Web Site

Dept. Web Site

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