Research Project


Letting the Right Ones In: State-Sanctioned Memories of Diviners, Healers, and Artisans in Five Mid-Sixth to Mid-Seventh-Century Dynastic Histories

Dr. Stephan N. Kory

Dr. Kory’s project compares five “arrayed traditions” (liezhuan 列傳) or collections of biographical accounts of doctors and diviners found in five different sixth and seventh century Chinese dynastic histories. He approaches each of these collections as filtration devices for an endless variety of spiritual and mantic practices in early and mid-medieval China. There is a clear tension between state ritual concerns and the intractable popularity of divination and healing revealed in these collections. He will argue that even though the historians responsible for these works were dealing with an array of constraints with regard to the persons they selected for inclusion (e.g., political, ritual, historicist, practical, and textual), they articulate clear and contingent perspectives on divination, healing, and other occult arts and techniques. Commonalities will be identified and used to reconstruct contingent and conventional state institutional perspectives on healing and divination in mid-medieval China.

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