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Texts, Textual Communities, and Meaning: The genius loci of the Warring States Chu Tomb Guodian One


Meyer, D (2009). Texts, Textual Communities, and Meaning: The genius loci of the Warring States Chu Tomb Guodian One. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 63(4):827-856.

Abstract

The term ‘genius loci’ – the ‘spirit of place’ – has long referred to the unique or cherished aspects of a place. In contemporary usage, it can also denote the characteristic atmosphere of a space. In this article, I use genius loci to refer to the physical boundaries of a specified locus – tomb Guōdiàn One – that hosts a broad range of philosophical texts. The spirit of this space is characterised by the immanent tension between text and tomb. The historical and material environment in which texts were produced is an essential but generally neglected context for dealing with early Chinese intellectual practices. Exhumed philosophical materials from the Warring States period provide insights into the complex correlation between texts and their material carriers, texts and textual communities, textual communities and the practices of philosophising in contemporary China. This article will focus on these issues and so establish a methodological groundwork for investigating the social practice of reading and writing philosophical texts in early China. I will pose the following questions: Is there a potential conflict between the physical boundaries of a confined space – tomb Guōdiàn One – and its hosting different kinds of philosophical texts? If so, how should we deal with the tension between a confined space and its variety of texts in methodological terms? Does the tension illuminate how philosophical texts were used in contemporary China? Is it possible to reconstruct the audiences of these texts? Who were the target audiences? And how exclusive were these groups?

The term ‘genius loci’ – the ‘spirit of place’ – has long referred to the unique or cherished aspects of a place. In contemporary usage, it can also denote the characteristic atmosphere of a space. In this article, I use genius loci to refer to the physical boundaries of a specified locus – tomb Guōdiàn One – that hosts a broad range of philosophical texts. The spirit of this space is characterised by the immanent tension between text and tomb. The historical and material environment in which texts were produced is an essential but generally neglected context for dealing with early Chinese intellectual practices. Exhumed philosophical materials from the Warring States period provide insights into the complex correlation between texts and their material carriers, texts and textual communities, textual communities and the practices of philosophising in contemporary China. This article will focus on these issues and so establish a methodological groundwork for investigating the social practice of reading and writing philosophical texts in early China. I will pose the following questions: Is there a potential conflict between the physical boundaries of a confined space – tomb Guōdiàn One – and its hosting different kinds of philosophical texts? If so, how should we deal with the tension between a confined space and its variety of texts in methodological terms? Does the tension illuminate how philosophical texts were used in contemporary China? Is it possible to reconstruct the audiences of these texts? Who were the target audiences? And how exclusive were these groups?

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 63 (2009) > 4
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:20 Feb 2010 14:05
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:59
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717
Related URLs:http://www.sagw.ch/de/asiengesellschaft/publikationen/Asiatische-Studien.html (Publisher)
http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?vID=86850&vLang=D&vHR=1&vUR=4&vUUR=11 (Publisher)
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-31864

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