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CoverAmelung, Iwo / Kurtz, Joachim (Eds.)
Reading the Signs: Philology, History, Prognostication
Festschrift for Michael Lackner

2018 · ISBN 978-3-86205-615-6 · 592 S., geb. · EUR 85,—




Over more than 40 years, the sinologist Michael Lackner has studied a broad range of issues in China’s past and present. On the occasion of his 65th birthday, this volume brings together essays from friends, collaborators, colleagues, and students dedicated to the three fields of research in which he has made his most lasting contributions: philology, the histories of science and thought, and the study of prognostication. Michael Lackner’s work in all these areas is connected by an intense engagement with “signs”—texts and images but also objects, dreams, portents and omens—and the semiotic, epistemic and political contexts in which they become meaningful. The 25 contributions presented here highlight the fertility of such a transdisciplinary approach. Reading signs in material, textual, and visual sources dating from 2000 BCE to the present, scholars from four continents address themes as diverse as early Chinese ritual and cosmology; imperial and modern Chinese poetry, prose and drama; Chinese alchemy, astronomy and mathematics; the theory and practice of divination and prognosis; as well as exegetical traditions, political rhetoric, and problems of translation. Many articles examine entanglements between China and the West and offer comparative perspectives on developments in Europe and the Islamicate world.


Tabula Gratulatoria
List of Publications by Michael Lackner
To a Reader of Signs: A Dedication
Iwo Amelung and Joachim Kurtz

I. Philology

The Earliest Chinese Bells in Light of New Archaeological Discoveries
Lothar von Falkenhausen

Reading Newly Discovered Texts: Approaches to the Guodian Text “Zhongxin zhi dao” 忠信之道
Michael Schimmelpfennig

The Language of Heaven
Rudolf G. Wagner

Sage: An Unreadable Sign
Chu Pingyi

Du Fu’s Long Gaze Back: Fate, History, Heroism, Authorship
Martin Kern

Matteo Ricci, On Friendship, and Some Latin Sources for his Chinese Book
Christoph Harbsmeier

The Chinese Traditional Method of “Full or Vacant Characters” and the Grammar of Port-Royal
Uchida Keiichi

The Formation of Modern Written Chinese: Writing Categories and Polysyllabic Words
Shen Guowei

How to Modernize Hermeneutics: Readings of Rilke’s Late Poems
Christoph König

II. History

Laozi and Internal Alchemy
Fabrizio Pregadio

Drunken Talk: Political Discourse and Alcohol Consumption during the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127 CE)
Dagmar Schäfer

Nara Singde, Assimilation, Acculturation, and Identity in the Early Qing
Erling von Mende

The Delayed “Triumph” of Yan Ruoqu’s Evidential Studies during the Qianlong Era
Benjamin A. Elman

Scientific News or Prognostic Interpretation: Chinese Records of the 1874 Transit of Venus
Lü Lingfeng

“Cosmopolitanism” in Late Qing China. Local Refractions of a Global Concept
Joachim Kurtz

The Role of Alchemy in Constructing the Chinese Scientific Tradition
Iwo Amelung

Being Modern without the West? On the Futility of Self-Assertion in Chinese Thought
Marc A. Matten

Numbers as Signs: Conceptual Entanglements between Mathematics, Divination, and Language in the Modern Era
Andrea Bréard

III. Prognostication

Mis-reading the Signs, or: Theorizing Divination— Chinese and Greek
Lisa A. Raphals

Prognostication and Christianity in the Early Middle Ages
Klaus Herbers

Anxiety and Fear: Hexagrams “Ge” (49) and “Ding” (50) in the Zhouyi daquan
Tze-ki Hon

„An jenem Tag“. Über Prognose im Koran
Georges Tamer

Divination and Globalization: Some Comparative Perspectives on Geomancy in Premodern East Asia
Richard J. Smith

A Future Written in the Past: Prognostication in Diary Novels of Republican China
Carsten Storm

Fate, Freedom, and Will in European and Chinese Discourses on Chinese Tragedies
Natascha Gentz


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