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Virtual Brown Bag Colloquium: Reading Hannah Arendt in Chang’an: Zoon politikon and the Emergence of Individual Authorship in Han dynasties (202 BCE–220 CE)
Dr. Heng Du, Assistant Professor, East Asian Studies at UArizona
February 17, 2021, at 12:30 PM
In the concluding chapter of her monograph on the transformations of elite textual practices in early China (before 220 CE), Dr. Heng Du proposes a new interpretation of the emergence of “individual authorship” during China’s first stable empires, the Han dynasties (202 BCE–220 CE). In light of the recently recovered manuscripts, scholars begin to regard the pre-Han authors—such as Confucius and Mencius—as putative author figures. By adapting Hannah Arendt’s conceptualization of labor, work, and political action, this chapter delineates the mutually-dependent and dialectic interactions between the rise of individual authorship and the formation of a universal empire during the Han.