Transmitting Authority

Wang Tong (ca. 584–617) and the Zhongshuo in Medieval China’s Manuscript Culture


Transmitting Authority investigates the rise and fall of the cultural currency of the Confucian teacher Wang Tong (ca. 584–617), a.k.a. Master Wenzhong, in the five centuries following his death, by examining the textual and social history of the Zhongshuo, which purports to record Wang Tong’s teachings. Incorporating theories and methodologies from textual criticism, the history of the book, and cultural studies, Warner reveals evidence of the Zhongshuo’s textual fluidity during the Tang and early Song dynasties, and argues that this fluidity attended the shifting terms of the Zhongshuo’s cultural value for medieval China’s literati culture. In doing so, Warner offers scholars a model for the study of other works whose textual problems and historical significance have hitherto seemed inscrutable.

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Ding Xiang Warner is Associate Professor of Chinese Literature at Cornell University, author of A Wild Deer amid Soaring Phoenixes: The Opposition Poetics of Wang Ji (2003), and a co-editor of Brill’s Studies in the History of Chinese Texts series.
All interested in the history of the book in Asia and the world, especially in pre-modern Chinese textual studies and manuscript culture, and the intersections of these with intellectual history.