skip to content

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Rooms 8 & 9, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
Event date: 
Wednesday, 27 February, 2019 - 17:00 to 18:30

China Research Seminar Series talk given by Prof. Harry Rothschild, University of North Florida

During a moment of reflection as I neared the completion of a decade of work on my recent book, Emperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devils, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers, I was stricken by a daunting realization. The research I had done over the past ten years was not an explanation of how Wu Zhao, better known as Wu Zetian or Empress Wu, invented an intricate and novel paradigm of power to become China’s first and only female emperor. Rather, it was little more than a study of a single (if multi-pronged and significant) strategy among the far wider interconnected repertoire of political, religious, military, and economic tactics that underlay the multifaceted construction of her sovereignty. This lecture will attempt to briefly map out the territories of Wu Zhao’s dizzyingly complex realms of power that have been examined in modern scholarship and to provide some initial thoughts on those vast tracts of terra incognita that remain before us.

N. Harry Rothschild is a Professor of Chinese History at the University of North Florida. An international officer and member of the Wu Zetian Research Association, he has also worked and researched at Shaanxi Normal University, Peking University, and Sichuan University. Over the past 15 years, Rothschild has published two books on female sovereign Wu Zhao (r.690-705), Wu Zhao, China’s Only Woman Emperor and Emperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devis, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers. In addition, he has written an array of essays exploring various facets of her composite sovereignty: her connection to apocalyptic Buddhism, utilization of avian symbolism, relationship with shamanism and the occult, her manipulation of language creating new characters and choosing reign names, and the tactical integration of non-Chinese subjects.