Charles Sanft - Associate Professor of History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
In this talk, I consider written texts from the northwest border region during the Han dynasty. I bring in a new interpretive framework, incorporate new excavated documents, and reconsider previously known materials to challenge common assumptions about textual culture in early China. The implications of this line of research challenge received understandings of text in early society. I propose that those living in the region constituted a literate community of commoners linked to the broader textual culture of the empire. And while scholars have often viewed text as the exclusive province of elites, I argue its capabilities functioned throughout society.
Charles Sanft is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has published widely on the thought and culture of early imperial China.