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VIRTUAL: The Social Networks of Antiquities Collectors in Northern-Song China: An Experiment in Digital Humanities

Ya-Hwei Hsu, National Taiwan University

April 16, 2020 · 4:30 pm · via Zoom

Department of Art and Archaeology; Program in East Asian Studies
Li Gonglin

Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) of China has often been compared with the Renaissance in the West. Like Renaissance humanists, scholar-officials of the Northern Song began to collect and study remains from antiquity, especially bronze ritual objects. By the end of the Northern Song, ancient bronzes had become a prominent category in Emperor Huizong’s (r. 1100-1125) imperial collections.

This presentation investigates the process of this exceedingly fervent development by examining five extant catalogs and treatises composed by scholars and collectors at the time. It will draw data from the Chinese Biographical Database (CBDB) and employ the digital tools of Social Network Analysis (SNA) to reconstruct the network of the collectors for each book. A study of the individuals allows us to make micro-observations of their roles in the networks, while the overall structure of the network graphs offers a way to evaluate the social capital of the collectors collectively. This talk will demonstrate, the scholar-collectors’ networks reached the height when Lü Dalin combined social and political capital in antiquity collection. They were then broken up after Emperor Huizong stepped into the picture and changed the dynamics entirely. The networks reconstructed from the five works from the 1090s to the 1120s afford a micro- examination of this critical period of antiquarian development in pre-modern China.

To join the talk via Zoom, go to: https://princeton.zoom.us/j/781347331

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