Stuck in the Middle? The Third Middle Period China Humanities Conference (220-1600)


Following the success of the first gathering of Middle Period scholars in 2014 at Harvard and the second in 2017 at Leiden, we are very pleased to announce that Yale will host the third meeting on June 22-25, 2023.

We welcome papers from all disciplines in humanities (specifically history, literature, history of art, and religious studies) that deal with China between 220-1600. Because the theme of the conference is “Stuck in the Middle” we encourage papers that cover more than a single dynasty and reexamine periodization more broadly.

Papers can be in English or Chinese (all papers should have abstracts in both English and Chinese). The target length is 10,000 words or less for English, 6000 characters or less for Chinese; we urge participants to present work in progress that will spark debate. The two working languages of the conference will be English and Chinese, and we encourage participants to speak whichever language they prefer. We will not translate everything but interpreters will be present to summarize the discussion when necessary. 

If you would like to submit a group of papers together (as a panel), please do so, but, depending on the number of participants, we may have to combine some panels or even break them up. 

The deadline for all paper proposals is December 1, 2022. The requirements for PhD students and PhD holders are different. (We will not accept proposals from MA students or MA degree holders who are not candidates for the PhD.)

1. PhD students should answer a brief questionnaire about the paper you would like to present; the advisors of PhD students must submit a brief form as well. They will also need to submit full versions of their papers by March 15, 2023 if they wish to be considered for funding.  Reminder: the target length for everyone is 10,000 words/6000 characters. 

2. PhD holders should complete this registration form and provide abstracts of no more than 500 words/300 characters. Ideally you will cover the questions we have asked the PhD students to address directly (What are your main sources? What are the most important studies on your topic? What is your original contribution to the field of Middle Period Chinese studies?). 

The deadline for final submissions of papers is March 15, 2023 if you are seeking funding.  If you are not, the deadline for paper submissions is May 15, 2023. (We will not provide funding to anyone who misses the March 15 deadline.) 

Please indicate on the registration form whether you are requesting funding. Everyone is eligible for funding, but we will give preference to PhD students. Because our funding is limited, we expect that the maximum travel award will be $1000. 

We will notify everyone about the acceptance of their papers and travel grants by mid-February to give time to make their travel arrangements and to request internal funding at their institutions. We suggest making [hotel reservations] now. If you are on a tight budget, consider reserving lodging through Airbnb.  

We may have room for scholars who do not want to present papers to attend. Please write and let us know of your interest, and we’ll let you know by May 15, 2023 if there is room for you to attend.

For instructions for how to travel to New Haven from JFK Airport or New York City, please click here.

If you have any questions, please write to


繼中古中國人文會議在哈佛大學(2014)與莱顿大学(2017)成功举办之後,我們很高興地宣佈,耶魯大學將於 2023 年 6 月 22 日至 25 日舉辦第三次會議。

我們歡迎來自各個人文學科(特別是歷史、文學、藝術史和宗教研究)所有與 220-1600 年間中國有關的投稿。由於會議的主題是「深陷中間」,我們希望投稿論文能夠跨越單一朝代的局限,以更廣闊的視角重新審視歷史分期。




1. 博士生需就報告論文填寫一份簡短的問卷;博士生導師也必須提交一份簡短的表格。希望申請會議補助的博士生須在 2023 年 3 月 15 日之前提交論文的完整版本。提醒:論文的目標長度是 10,000 字/6000 字。

2. 已獲博士學位的學者需填寫此報名表,並提供不超過500字/300字的摘要。我們希望您能直接回答一些我們同樣會問博士生的問題(例如,您主要的史料來源是什麼?關於您的研究主題有什麼重要的前人研究?您的論文會對中古中國研究領域產生什麼貢獻?)。

如果您想申請會議補助,最終提交論文的截止日期是 2023 年 3 月 15 日。如果不需要會議補助,論文提交的截止日期是 2023 年 5 月 15 日。(我們不會給任何錯過 3 月 15 日截止日期的人提供補助。)

請在註冊表上註明您是否申請補助。每個人都有資格申請補助,但我們會優先考慮博士生。由於我們的資金有限,我們預計最高旅行補助為 1000 美元。

為方便與會者制定旅行計劃以及申請所屬研究機構內部的資金,我們將在 2 月中旬通知論文和會議補助申請的結果。我們建議您現在就[敬請期待]。如果預算緊張,可以考慮通過 Airbnb 預訂住宿。

我們的會議可能會為不想發表論文的學者提供旁聽席。若您有興趣參與,請來信告知。如果場地允許,我們會在 2023 年 5 月 15 日之前通知您結果。



Yale University

June 22nd - June 25th, 2023

Conference Venues


By general agreement among American and European scholars, China’s ancient history ended in 220 CE with the passing of the first long-lived dynasty, the Han; similarly, scholars agree that modern China begins in 1600 as the Ming dynasty weakened and the Qing dynasty of the Manchus was taking shape. But does it make sense for scholars to treat the centuries between 220 and 1600 as a single period? Did people living across this time span experience life in the same way? Is it meaningful to think of a single traditional China?

One prevailing paradigm, first proposed a century ago by the Japanese scholar Naitō Torajirō, holds that between the Tang and Song dynasties China underwent a major transformation, passing from the medieval to the early modern period, with changes so great that some have termed them a commercial revolution. At the time, two major dynasties reigned: the Tang from 618 to 910, and the Song from 960 to 1276, when the Mongols invaded and established their own dynasty for nearly a century. China’s greatest poets, thinkers, and scientists produced their life works in these centuries. Buddhist monks succeeded in winning extensive support from commoner and emperor alike, while Confucian and Daoist thinkers also made important breakthroughs that shaped the respective histories of their religions. 

But recent research shows that the paradigm is not as convincing as once thought. Few scholars address long-term change; almost all research focuses on a much shorter span of time. 

For all its importance, this period receives little attention at the Asian Studies meetings in America and Europe – often just a few panels – while China offers dynasty-specific conferences but nothing devoted to the entire timespace. For this reason American, Chinese, European, and Japanese scholars held the first gathering of Middle Period scholars in 2014 at Harvard and the second in 2017 at Leiden, where everyone agreed that the meeting was so fruitful that it should continue. 

The third meeting of this conference, to be held at Yale on June 22-25, 2023, will provide an opportunity for scholars of Middle Period China to gather in New Haven and exchange views. This conference offers participants a chance to think about the most meaningful ways to divide up this giant expanse of time. We welcome revised seminar papers by PhD candidates and understand that they may not address the questions of periodization directly, but we hope that more established scholars will take advantage of the chance to meet scholars working on various dynasties and in different disciplines to think hard about these definitions of our field and how they affect the ways we pose questions.

The Program Committee

Luke BENDER, Yale University

DENG Xiaonan, Peking University

Eric GREENE, Yale University

Valerie HANSEN, Yale University

HSU Ya-hwei, National Taiwan University 

LI Yiwen, City University of Hong Kong

Richard SOSA, Yale University

WANG Jinping, National University of Singapore



歐美學者普遍認為  ,中國的古代史終結于公元220年,當統治中國長達400多年的漢朝滅亡之時;中國的近代史則開始于1600年,當明朝衰落、滿清崛起之時。然而,我們能將220年和1600之間的多個世紀當做中古史一個時段來處理嗎?生活在這些世紀中的人們經歷了相似的人生嗎?思考一個傳統中國有意義嗎?

近100年前,日本學者內藤湖南最先提出了影響學界至今的“唐宋變革論”,認為唐宋之間經歷了從中世紀到前近代社會的深刻轉型。其間的變化是如此重大,以至於一些學者甚至以“商業革命”來描述之。在這個變革期,中國經歷了唐 (618-907) 與宋 (960-1276) 兩個主要的王朝。之後,蒙古入侵并建立元朝,統治中國長達一個多世紀。在這個中古時代,中國誕生了最偉大的一批詩人、思想家和科學家 。 佛教徒獲得了上自皇帝下自農夫的廣泛社會支持,儒家和道家的思想家們同樣取得了重要突破,影響了各家宗教的發展歷史。然而,最新的研究顯示,唐宋變革論的解釋模式並非如我們曾經所想的那樣有說服力。儘管少數學者仍然關注長時段的變遷,大部分的研究者已將精力集中到更短的歷史時期。




Luke BENDER (盧本德), 耶魯大學

鄧小南, 北京大學

Eric GREENE (葛利尹), 耶魯大學

Valerie HANSEN (韓森), 耶魯大學

許雅惠, 國立臺灣大學

李怡文, 香港城市大學 

Richard SOSA (宋宇德), 耶魯大學


Sponsored by the Council on East Asian Studies, the Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies, and the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund.