History and Representations in Early Chinese Literature

Kevin Kuanyun Huang :

Mentor: Professor Jeffrey Riegel, East Asian Languages

Kevin intends to uncover theories of history prevalent in ancient China through an examination of the representation of known historical figures in the literature from the Eastern Zhou through the Han dynasties (circa 771 - 86 BCE). Focusing particularly on Zhuangzi, a compilation of philosophical treatises whose historicity has been conventionally discredited, as well as Shiji, the first comprehensive history of China, Kevin will examine the interplay between ideology, history and legend in the treatment of historical figures in these classical Chinese texts. In addition to using traditional empirical methods of textual criticism to solve questions surrounding the compilation of Zhuangzi, Kevin will also examine the relationship between the ancient Chinese theories of history he deduces and contemporary western critical theories that consider the narrativity of historical writing.