Getting to know… Shuyang Zhao


A series introducing the Visiting Scholars & Fellows in residence at HYI this year

Shuyang Zhao (Associate Professor, School of Liberal Arts, Nanjing University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2023-24)
“A Study of the Circulation of Tang Poetry in the Perspective of Book History”

What got you interested in your research topic?

Since my major is Chinese Bibliography, I have great interest in the history of books, especially the relationship between books and human beings. The books and texts of the Tang dynasty, which were known as the Manuscript era, are totally different from today’s, either in production or circulation. Many human behaviors and thoughts thus appear not the same as those of later generations, which has caused many misunderstandings about Tang Dynasty history and figures. It is necessary to conduct in-depth research on the Manuscript era to correctly understand the history and culture of the Tang Dynasty closely related to books.

After devoting myself more than ten years to collating almost all the texts of Tang poems, which mostly originated from the Tang dynasty and possess all the characteristics of that time, my understanding of the books of the Manuscript era gradually increased. So I decided to focus my research mainly on exploring the production and circulation of Tang poetry texts and books from the aspect of book history, especially from the era of writing, to provide a concrete case for the study of Manuscript Culture.

As a visiting scholar at Harvard-Yenching Institute (2023-2024), I will broaden my networks with scholars in the United States who study Manuscript Culture and Tang Dynasty history and literature. The Harvard-Yenching Library and other North American libraries’ extensive collection of Chinese rare books and research publications can also provide me with resources for my research.

Outside of work, where can we find you?

The Rare Books Reading Room of Harvard-Yenching Library. I spend a lot of time reading the rare books and archives there. Also, I travelled a lot to explore the collections of Chinese rare books and ancient Chinese relics of other libraries and museum in North America, such as the Library of Congress, the MFA, the Metropolitan Museum and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

What would you want to do most as a career if you were not in academia?

Travel writer. I love travelling! The wonderful scenery along the way always inspires me, which I would like to write into articles and share with others.

Read Prof. Zhao’s bio on our website!

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