Chinese Classical Textual Studies in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Leading Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Chinese Culture
Affiliation: Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: 32, Nakhimovsky Av., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation
Journal nameProblemy Dalnego Vostoka
EditionIssue 5

The article offers a brief outline of the history of "classical Chinese textual studies" (Zhongguo gudian wenxianxue), analyzes its content and structure, as well as its place and prospects in modern China. Classical Chinese textual studies emerged as a distinct modern academic discipline based on an ancient domestic tradition and under the influence of Western textual criticism of the 19th century. Since the 1920s, over the last hundred years, it has undergone several ups and downs but steadily continues to maintain continuity with a vast philological knowledge of imperial China, as well as to appropriate new approaches from Western humanities. The most developed areas of wenxianxue are the editing and publication of ancient texts, theoretical research in the foundations of textual studies, the creation and further exploration of subdisciplines, the analysis of research methods, and interdisciplinary perspectives, the study of the history of wenxianxue as well as various specialized problems. Overall, Chinese classical textual studies gravitate toward striving for comprehensiveness, interdisciplinary approaches, and practical issues. Currently, there is still a certain lack of innovation in exploring new areas, insufficient rigor and depth in theoretical research, the uneven development of individual areas of research and their somewhat regional character, nevertheless, textual studies manage to combine extensive practical work on "ordering ancient books" (guji zhengli) with a comprehensive study on the vast and immense Chinese textual culture.

KeywordsChina, wenxianxue, textual studies, text, ancient books, guji, classical philology, textual culture
Publication date18.10.2021
Number of characters25533
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