Research interests: Chinese history c. 1200 B.C. - c. 755 A.D.; classical Chinese ethical and political theory
Michael Puett is the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion. He is also a non-resident long-term fellow for programs in anthropological and historical sciences and the languages and civilizations of East Asia at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala.
Puett joined the Harvard faculty in 1994 after earning his M.A. (1987) and Ph.D. (1994) from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His interests focus on the inter-relations between religion, anthropology, history, and philosophy. In his research, Puett aims to bring the study of China into larger historical and comparative frameworks. He has published many articles on early Chinese history (c. 1200 B.C. - c. 755 A.D.), and on classical Chinese ritual, social, and political theory.
Puett is the author of The Ambivalence of Creation: Debates Concerning Innovation and Artifice in Early China (Stanford, 2001) and To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China (Harvard, 2002), as well as the co-author, with Adam Seligman, Robert Weller, and Bennett Simon, of Ritual and its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity (Oxford, 2008). Puett has received multiple awards for his teaching and advising. In 2013 Puett was one of five named Harvard College Professors in recognition of his dedication to undergraduate education. Since 2012 his General Education course, “Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory,” has been the third most enrolled undergraduate course at Harvard.