Between Text and Commentaries: Chinese and European Stories about Marvelous Births

Thu, Feb 11, 2016, 4:30 pm


Nicolas Standaert

Professor of Sinology

University of Leuven (Belgium)


Between Text and Commentaries:

Chinese and European Stories about Marvelous Births

This presentation will propose an early case of “intercultural historiography,” i.e. a way of writing history in which the interaction with another culture is an integral part of the historiographical process. It focusses on the ways Chinese and European authors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries interpreted the stories about the marvelous births by the concubines of Emperor Ku 帝嚳.

Emperor Ku is surpassed in fame by several of his sons, such as the model ruler Yao 堯 and the model minister of agriculture Hou Ji 后稷 (the "Prince Millet"). They were conceived in some marvelous ways, by seeing a red dragon, eating the egg of a swallow or stepping in the footprints of a giant. These stories have been the object of a wide variety of interpretations in Chinese historical texts, each representing a different historical genre. This presentation shows how the Chinese hermeneutic strategies shaped the diversity of interpretations given to these stories by Europeans.

Nicolas Standaert is Professor of Sinology at the University of Leuven (Belgium). He specializes in the cultural contacts between China and Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His recent publications include An Illustrated Life of Christ Presented to the Chinese Emperor: The History of Jincheng shuxiang (1640), (Monumenta Serica Monograph Series LIX) Sankt Augustin Nettetal: Steyler Verlag, 2007; The Interweaving of Rituals: Funerals in the Cultural Exchange between China and Europe, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008; Chinese Voices in the Rites Controversy: Travelling Books, Community Networks, Intercultural Arguments, (Bibliotheca Instituti Historici S.I. 75), Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 2012. His new book entitled The Intercultural Weaving of Historical Texts: Chinese and European Stories about Emperor Ku and his Concubines will be published by E.J. Brill (Leiden) in 2016.

202 Jones Hall

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