New Approaches to the Study of Manuscripts and Other Written Artefacts

7:00–8:30 pm
University of Chicago Center in Beijing
20th Floor, Culture Plaza
59A Zhong Guan Cun Street
Haidian District, Beijing


The European Research Center for Chinese Studies invites scholars from Germany and France to visit Beijing and present distinguished lectures on their research.  On August 27th the University of Chicago Center in Beijing hosted one such lecture, “New Approaches to the Study of Manuscripts and Other Written Artifacts,” by Prof. Michael Friedrich of Hamburg University.  More than sixty who attended were interested to learn how scholars and manuscript curators have expanded the field of Manuscriptology to embrace the writing traditions of much of the world: not only Europe and North Africa, but also the Middle East, West and East Africa, South and Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Central and South America.  Rather than focusing on the messages of historical texts, these scholars attend to the materiality of manuscripts. Prof. Friedrich noted a number of disciplines and technologies that have newly been brought together for the study of precious written documents at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures in Hamburg.  Rigorous terminologies now shared by experts in the field can shed new light on the contexts and histories of world writing traditions.  Manuscriptology concerns itself with texts as diverse as Buddhist sutras and 19th century shopping lists, marginal annotations in printed books and bamboo slips from Mawang Dui 马王堆.  Friedrich’s own field being Chinese manuscript studies, his examples appealed to specialists in the audience, who were delighted to learn more about European research in this field.