Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2012 - 7/31/2012

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Concepts of Speech and Writing in Early China

FAIN: FT-59732-12

Jane M. Geaney
University of Richmond (Richmond, VA 23173-0001)

My book project, "A Chinese Grammatology," documents and interprets the development of ideas about language in Early China (c. 500 B.C.E.-220 C.E.). The period is important because the inhabitants the Yellow River valley formed concepts of language without being aware of any type of writing other than their own non-alphabetic script. Sometime around the second century C.E., early Chinese assumptions about the nature of language collided with unfamiliar counterparts in Buddhist texts transmitted through Central Asia. By examining this elusive encounter, my project shows how non-alphabetic scripts can shape a culture's ideas about the nature of language. Pre-Buddhist concepts of language differ not only from those in the first Buddhist translations, but also from those of the dominant Western philosophical tradition. Thus, my project also reveals how Western philosophy's ontological dualisms drawn from a hierarchy of speech over writing continue to mislead scholarship on Early China.

Associated Products

Language as Bodily Practice: A Chinese Grammatology (Book)
Title: Language as Bodily Practice: A Chinese Grammatology
Abstract: Jane Geaney argues that early Chinese conceptions of speech and naming cannot be properly understood if viewed through the dominant Western philosophical tradition in which language is framed through dualisms that are based in hierarchies of speech and writing.
Year: 2018
Publisher: SUNY Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9781438468600
Copy sent to NEH?: No