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Medieval East Asia

Medieval East Asia

This working group will explore the use of the idea of the Middle Ages as a vehicle for rethinking
interactions among East Asian cultures from the breakup of the Han to the beginning of the
Tokugawa period. Over the past decade or so, historians of China, Japan, and Korea have begun to use the concept of “the medieval” in a different way: not as a means of gauging a nation’s similarity to or distance from Europe, but as a way of exploring tendencies that transcend East Asian national histories. Now that the question of similarity/dissimilarity to Europe is moot, the concept has been freed to work in other ways. Because the it is of foreign origin, it offers a more or less neutral bed on which to think about processes, including religious movements, the dissolution of empire and
political fragmentation, violence, commerce and urbanization, that affected the entire region.
This working group will explore the possibilities opened up by this way of thinking about the field of premodern East Asian studies. It will function part as a reading group and part as an opportunity for members to share work-in-progress. We also anticipate inviting two or three guests/speakers.

Amanda Goodman, UTSG Study of Religion
Thomas Keirstead, UTSG East Asian Studies

Faculty at the University of Toronto
Linda Rui Feng, UTSG Study of Religion
Curie Virag, UTSG East Asian Studies
Nhung Tuyet Tran, UTSG History

Graduate Students at the University of Toronto

Yu Wen, East Asian Studies
Nicholas Field, Study of Religion
Howard Shing, Study of Religion

Wen-Chien Cheng, East Asian Art Chair, Royal Ontario Museum

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