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Scholarly Conducts and Identities in Song China (960-1279)

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Directors : Alain Arrault (EFEO, CECMC-UMR 8173), Stéphane Feuillas (Université Paris-Diderot, CRCAO), Christian Lamouroux (EHESS, CECMC-UMR 8173)

Regular Members : Isabelle Ang (Collège de France), Roger Darrobers (Université de Nanterre), Jean-Claude Pastor (Université Bordeaux 3)
Associate Members : Yannick Bruneton (UMR 8173-CRC), Michela Bussotti (EFEO), Frédéric Wang (INALCO, centre Chine)
Doctoral Students : Guillaume Dutournier, Zhang Chao.

Post-doctoral Student : Maud M’Bondjo.
International Partnerships : Hans van Ess (Institut für Sinologie, Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität, München), Fabian Heubel (Academia Sinica, Taipei), Huang Kuan-min (Academia Sinica, Taipei), Michael Lackner (International Consortium for Research in the Humanities, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Erlangen-Nürnberg), Kai Marchal (Philosophy Department, Soochow University,Taipei)

This program aims to study the multiple facets of the lettered man under the Song Dynasty. Indeed what characterises the scholar in this period differs considerably from what defined the scholar under other dynasties : the claim, asserted very early on, of his hegemonic position in society and his constant concern to distinguish himself largely owing to a sense of belonging to an elite (brought about by the specific nature of their training and ethical commitment). The idea is to bring together all the French specialists of the Song Dynasty and to apply their diverse skillset (literary, philosophical, administrative methods, religion and other branches of knowledge) in studying the different representations Song Dynasty scholars had of their mission in contrast to scholarly life and practices under other periods of Chinese history, including recent times. In parallel with other activities (translation of Shen Gua’s Mengxi Bitan, for instance), the study will attempt to synthesize the Song scholars’ mental representations and will be based on two types of texts that have so far been neglected : poetic sources that will be considered not so much from a strict literary point of view but rather as material providing information on specific scholarly practices : the relationship between poetry and correspondence or between poetry and philosophy as an expression of scholarly sociability (games, social value and network building) and knowledge ; « ritualization » of learning (maturation of knowledge, production of writing, spatial, mental and ritual conditioning). The significant number of « notebook fictions » (biji 筆記), a genre that fully matures under the Song Dynasty also offers an opportunity to examine how scholars of that period envisaged the relationship between the transmission of high culture and the irruption of the « anecdotic » or the « heterodox », how different emotions, experiences and constant confrontation with popular culture or with newly formed religions modified and fed the development of the scholars’ conduct and knowledge. Private production will be contrasted with official writing as will be collective endeavours with individual endeavours, and the scholarly temptation to ‘retire’ will also be examined. The study of these different literary practices aim at determining the conditions of appropriation and restitution of knowledge which allowed the scholars to justify their practices and conduct on an ethical level and, as a result, to produce a new image of the « accomplished man » ; they also tend to define the « social capital » that was built in constant link with public administration at a local level and at court /central level.

Upcoming activities :
- Seminar at Université Paris-Diderot
- Monthly preparatory sessions starting with a four-day workshop.
- International conference and publication of its proceedings.
- Publication of a work on scholarly life under the Song Dynasty intended for the larger public (Christian Lamouroux and Stéphane Feuillas).