skip to content

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Part II

This course explores the nature, history, and significance of Chinese writing from its origin until the second half of the twentieth century. It demonstrates the role of the script in the formation of Chinese civilisation and observes how even today the script remains at the core of cultural identity. We will assess traditional explanations of the invention of writing in contrast with archaeological evidence and to recognise potential biases in both pre-modern and modern representations. Tracing the major stages of the development of Chinese characters over more than three millennia, we will examine the socio-political background and the historical figures involved in each period. We will also follow the spread of the script beyond China's borders and the changes it underwent in its new cultural and linguistic environment.

Note for 2018-19: only one of C.15 or C.16 will be offered depending on the number of students who pre-register for the papers.