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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Epitaphs from the Tomb of Shangguan Wan’er, 7th/8th Century

Immortalized in Stone

Memory Making in Late Medieval China - Fellowship Project Alexei Ditter/Jessey Choo at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Günter Blamberger, Prof. Dr. Dietrich Boschung and Prof. Dr. Alexei Ditter (Reed College), Prof. Dr. Jessey Choo (Rutgers University)

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Since 2009, the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities has invited Fellows from the entire spectrum of the humanities to the University of Cologne to discuss questions of the genesis, dynamics and mediality of cultural figurations. From January to summer 2019, two renowned China experts, Alexei Ditter (Chinese Literature, Reed College) and Jessey Choo (Chinese History & Religion, Rutgers University), will be in Cologne to undertake their collaborative project, a study of the construction, circulation, and consumption of memory in the 7th till 10th century in China. Through interdisciplinary and collaborative analyses of the thousands of entombed epitaphs excavated in recent decades in China, they will trace the practices and processes of the representation of memory and identity and theorize how the study of this distinct cultural resource for remembering may be applied to the study of the medieval world more broadly.
It is planned that their jointly implemented project will culminate in the first English-language monograph treating late medieval Chinese entombed epigraphy and the first comprehensive study in any language on memory, from inception through reception, in late medieval China. It makes several scholarly contributions. First, it substantially increases the understanding of the practices and processes of medieval Chinese memory-making. Second, it develops an approach to these materials more sophisticated than currently used in their respective fields. Third, it articulates a theory of memory grounded in the everyday life and practices of a medieval world. This theory serves as a useful resource for scholars studying medieval societies who otherwise can only rely on theories of memory developed from observation of modern practices and technologies. Starting from a material corpus that is highly revealing in an intercultural comparison, the inherent theoretical aspects of a theory of memory may stimulate connections within the fellows‘ community and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Text: Martin Roussel, Alexei Ditter, Jessey Choo


Morphomata Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Prof. Dr. Günter Blamberger