Relevant Degree Programs
Traditional Chinese intellectual history or history of traditional Chinese thought and institutions.
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Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
This dissertation examines the history of summary execution in the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) and its significant impact upon Chinese politics and legal culture. The practice of this extraordinary punishment initially increased in the eighteenth century, when the Qing Empire encountered the challenges of a growing population, an overburdened judicial system, and an increased number of popular protests. The Qianlong emperor (1711-1799) extensively used expedient procedures and bestowed upon regional authorities the power of summary execution to battle the threats from both borderland and inland—including the emerging underclass and the protesters. However, the problems remained unresolved and the court continued to institutionalize this informal punishment. In the nineteenth century, the increasing social turmoil and continuously overwhelmed judicial system led to several reforms at the regional level. Following the trend of local militarization, the spread of men using force became an inevitable trend. The authorities continued to rely on braves in order to quench local revolts and save government expenditures. Yet this approach blurred the boundary between legality and illegality and forced the authorities to severely punish soldiers and unorganized “roaming braves” (youyong 游勇) through the informal procedure of summary execution.Although the practice of summary execution helped the authorities to overcome the lack of judicial resources and suppress the threats in an efficient manner, it also evaded central authority over death penalty and enhanced political intervention in the judicial process. The extensive use of this punishment created a space for not only the state but also regional authorities and local forces to manipulate judicial expediency and the death penalty. It also led to the rise of what I call the “economy of punishment”—the spread and distribution of penal resources related to crime and violence. This trend shifted the practice of Chinese death penalty toward a system where routinized and exceptional, centralized and decentralized, and formal and informal forces consistently negotiated judicial expediency and mutually shaped one another. More importantly, it reveals that a series of significant reforms predated the Westernization of law and continued to influence Chinese criminal justice during the first half of the twentieth century.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
The early Northern Song witnesses the commencement of an elevation of Han Yu’s status in intellectual history. However, the image of Han Yu as a cultural hero established by the Northern Song intellectuals departs greatly from how Han Yu perceived himself and how he was perceived during his day. This paper examines how Han Yu was perceived by the Tang intellectuals after him by reading the anecdotes preserved in the five compilations produced during the 9th and 10th centuries: Wei Xuan’s Liu binke jiahualu, Li Zhao’s Guoshibu, Zhao Lin’s Yinhualu, Zhang Du’s Xuanshizhi and Wang Dingbao’s Zhiyan. This thesis argues that the Tang literati’s recognition of Han Yu’s commitment to some basic Confucian moral values proceeded gradually throughout the second half of the Tang dynasty. Contrary to Peter K. Bol’s assertion that the transformation of Han Yu’s image from a literary genius to a model Confucian took place after the Tang collapsed, the paper supplements Anna M. Shields’ speculation and contends that Han Yu’s understanding and practice of Confucius’ teaching, along with his literature, had increasingly drawn attention from the intellectual community by the late Tang period. Not only were Han Yu’s writings exalted, his consistent concern for public affairs, his stoic antagonism to Buddhism and Daoism, and his adherence to Confucian moral values in public and private life were also highlighted. Confronting unprecedented political depression and moral deficiency, the late Tang intellectual community portrayed Han Yu as a model Confucian, an image Han Yu could not imagine during his day.