Conceptualizing Authorship in Late Imperial Chinese Philology
Daniel Stumm defended his thesis on 16 April 2020.
- Daniel Stumm
- 16 April 2020
- Leiden Repository
During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) philology dominated the scholarly discourse in China. Scholars worked extensively on received texts dating from around 500 to 200 BCE and employed their sophisticated methodology to them in order to distinguish the authentic from the spurious. This dissertation is a study of the discussions scholars had on the topic and argues that two factors decisively shaped Chinese textual scholarship of the 18th century. First, the conceptual framework on which it rested posited only one author for each text; second, scholars considered the sages of antiquity infallible paragons of virtue. However, received texts were at odds with both assumptions. As a result of this tension, scholars argued that the textual records could not be trusted and, based on their concept of authorship, pointed to insertions of unauthorized contributors. This dissertation shows that the narrow concept of authorship was the most determining factor in their philological work, forcing them to view received texts in a different light and giving rise to the wide-spread concern over forgeries.
Supervisor: prof. dr. H.G.D.G. De Weerdt, co-supervisor: dr. P. van Els.