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An “Ise monogatari” Reader is the first collection of essays in English on The Ise Stories, a canonical literary text ranked beside The Tale of Genji. Eleven scholars from Japan, North America, and Europe explore the historical and political context in which this literary court romance was created, or relate it to earlier works such as the Man’yōshū and later works such as the Genji and noh theater. Its medieval commentary tradition is also examined, as well as early modern illustrated editions and parodies. The collection brings cutting-edge scholarship of the very highest level to English readers, scholars, and students.
Contributors are: Aoki Shizuko, Fujihara Mika, Fujishima Aya, Gotō Shōko, Imanishi Yūichirō, Susan Blakeley Klein, Laura Moretti, Joshua S. Mostow, Ōtani Setsuko, Takahashi Tōru, and Yamamoto Tokurō
Most medieval historians have explained the ‘civil wars’ in Scandinavia in the 12th and 13th centuries as internal conflicts within a predominantly national and implicitly state-centered politico-constitutional framework. This book argues that the conflicts during this period should be viewed as less disruptive, less internal and less state-centered than in previous research. It does so through six articles comparing the civil wars in Scandinavia with civil wars in Afghanistan and Guinea-Bissau in the last decades, applying theories and perspectives from anthropology and political science. Finally, four articles discuss civil wars in a broader perspective.

Contributors are Ebrahim Afsah, Gerd Althoff, Jenny Benham, John Comaroff, Hans Jacob Orning, Frederik Rosén, Jón Viðar Sigurðsson, Henrik Vigh, Helle Vogt, Stephen D. White, and Øyvind Østerud.
A Study of 11th to 13th Century Tangut Records
Author: Jinbo Shi
Editor / Translator: Hansong Li
An Environmental History of Japan’s Rivers, 1600–1930
In Turbulent Streams: An Environmental History of Japan’s Rivers, 1600–1930, Roderick I. Wilson describes how the rivers of Japan are both hydrologically and historically dynamic. Today, these waterways are slowed, channeled, diverted, and dammed by a myriad of levees, multiton concrete tetrapods, and massive multipurpose dams. In part, this intensive engineering arises from the waterways falling great elevations over short distances, flowing over unstable rock and soil, and receiving large quantities of precipitation during monsoons and typhoons. But this modern river regime is also the product of a history that narrowed both these waterways and people’s diverse interactions with them in the name of flood control. Neither a story of technological progress nor environmental decline, this history introduces the concept of environmental relations as a category of historical analysis both to explore these fluvial interactions and reveal underappreciated dimensions of Japanese history.
The Huihui Yaofang was an encyclopedia of Near Eastern medicine compiled under the Mongol Yuan Dynasty for the benefit of themselves and the then Chinese medical establishments. Some 15% of the work survives, from a Ming Dynasty edition, and is here translated for the first time into English. We extensively introduce the translation with introductions situating it within the history of western and Chinese medicine, and provide critical apparatus for understanding. We provide accounts of the medicines and foods, with comparisons to other works of the time and to modern folk uses of these medicines in the Middle East. We show that the work is solidly western Asian, specifically derived from Persian-speaking Central Asia, and is adapted to Chinese use in several ways but without losing its western character.
Author: Litian Swen
Jesuit Mission and Submission explains how the Jesuits entered the Manchu world after the Manchus conquered Beijing in 1644. Supported by Qing court archives, the book discovers the Jesuits’ Manchu-style master-slave relationship with the Kangxi emperor. Against the backdrop of this relationship, the book reconstructs the back and forth negotiations between Kangxi and the Holy See regarding Chinese Rites Controversy (1705-1721), and shows that the Jesuits, although a group of foreign priests, had close access to Kangxi and were a trusted part of the Imperial circle. This book also redefines the rise and fall of the Christian mission in the early Qing court through key events, such as the Calendar Case and Yongzheng’s prohibition of Christianity.
Crossing Cultural Boundaries in East Asia and Beyond explores the personal complexities and ambiguities, and the successes and failures, of crossing borders and boundaries. While the focus is on East Asia, it universalizes cultural anxieties with comparative cases in Russia and the United States. The authors primarily engage the individual experiences of border-crossing, rather than more typically those of political or social groups located at territorial boundaries. Drawing on those individual experiences, this volume presents an array of attempts to negotiate the discomforts of crossing personal borders, and attends to the intimate experiences of border crossers, whether they are traveling to an unfamiliar cultural location or encountering the “other” in local settings such as the classroom or the coffee shop.
Volume 2: Fozu tongji, juan 39-42: From the Sui Dynasty to the Wudai Era
Author: Thomas Jülch
The Fozu tongji by Zhipan (ca. 1220-1275) is a key text of Chinese Buddhist historiography. The core of the work is formed by the “Fayun tongsai zhi,” an annalistic history of Buddhism in China, which extends through Fozu tongji, juan 34-48. Thomas Jülch now presents a translation of the “Fayun tongsai zhi” in three volumes. This second volume covers the annalistic display from the Sui dynasty to the end of the Wudai period. Offering elaborate annotations, Jülch succeeds in clarifying the backgrounds to the historiographic contents, which Zhipan presents in highly essentialized style. Jülch identifies the sources for the historical traditions Zhipan refers to, and when accounts presented by Zhipan are inaccurate or imprecise, he points out how the relevant matter is depicted in the sources Zhipan relies on. Consistently employing these means in reliable style Jülch defines a new standard for translations of medieval Chinese historiographic texts.
Author: David C. S. Li

Abstract

In Western societies, speaking is construed as an interactive social activity while writing is widely perceived as a solo or private endeavor. Such a functional dichotomy did not apply to the “Sinographic Cosmopolis” in premodern East Asia, however. Based on selected documented examples of writing-mediated cross-border communication spanning over a thousand years from the Sui dynasty to the late Ming dynasty, this paper demonstrates that Hanzi 漢字, a morphographic, non-phonographic script, was commonly used by literati of classical Chinese or Literary Sinitic to engage in “silent conversation” as a substitute for speech. Except for a “drifting” record co-constructed by Korean maritime officials and Chinese “boat people,” all the other examples featured Chinese–Japanese interaction. While synchronous cross-border communication in written Chinese has been reported in scholarly works in East Asian studies (published more commonly in East Asian languages than in English or other Western languages), to our knowledge no attempt has been made to examine such writing-mediated interaction from a linguistic or discourse-pragmatic point of view. Writing-mediated interaction enacted through Sinitic brushtalk (漢文筆談) is compatible with transactional and interactional language functions as in speech. In premodern and early modern East Asia, it was most commonly conducted using brush, ink, and paper, but it could also take place using a pointed object and a flat surface covered with a fluid substance like sand, finger-drawing using water or tea on a table, and so forth. Such an interactional pattern appears to be unparalleled in other regional lingua francas written with a phonographic script such as Latin and Arabic. To facilitate research into the extent to which this interactional pattern is script-specific to morphographic sinograms, a “morphographic hypothesis” is proposed. The theoretical significance of writing-mediated interaction as a third or even fourth known modality of synchronous communication—after speech and (tactile) sign language—will be briefly discussed.

In: China and Asia