Networks, Regions, and Knowledge in Fourteenth Century China: The Compilers of the History of the Yuan

Sep 25, 2019 | 12:00 PM

Chen Wenyi (Associate Research Fellow, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2019-20)
Chair/discussant: Peter Bol (Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University)

One good way to gauge the Mongol impact on China proper in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is to examine the world of knowledge in this period. I will begin this talk by briefly introducing one approach I have taken to this question: examining Yuan book prefaces for traces of how knowledge was produced and circulated (or not). I will then turn to a related but different aspect of the problem, focusing on the structure through which production and circulation took place – literati networks. Using a study of the “remnant” Yuan literati who were summoned by the Ming (1368-1644) court to compile the History of the Yuan, I explore a new “event” based approach. The regional literati networks I identify can help us explain the unequal distribution of knowledge at this time, and present a snapshot of “regional scholarship” that is not limited by administrative units.