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China Humanities Seminar featuring Michelle Wang – Terrestrial Diagrams in Early China
February 26 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Speaker: Michelle H. Wang, Associate Professor of Art History and Humanities, Reed College
In The Art of Terrestrial Diagrams in Early China (University of Chicago Press, 2023), Michelle H. Wang explores the diagrammatic tradition of rendering space in early China. The book centers on maps (ditu) excavated from three tombs that date from the fourth to the second century BCE and constitute the entire known corpus of early Chinese maps. Unlike extant studies that draw heavily from the history of cartography, the book offers an interdisciplinary account of the diversity of forms and functions in early Chinese ditu to argue that these pictures did not simply represent natural topography and built environments but rather made and remade worlds for the living and the dead. In this talk, Wang will provide an overview of the leading questions and methods that underpin the project, a case study that exemplifies their application, and a proposal for future lines of inquiry.
Michelle H. Wang is Associate Professor of Art History and Humanities at Reed College. She specializes in art and archaeology of tenth century BCE to third century CE China, with an emphasis on early notational systems. Her research interests include artisanal practice, history of technology, excavated texts, and mortuary culture. Her work has appeared in journals such as Artibus Asiae and Art History.