The Future of China's Past: Traditional Lenses for Exploring China
China’s rise may be the single most transformative event of the contemporary world. Many have called attention to the economic and political impact of China’s rise, but what of China’s cultural renaissance? What does it bode for the future? The reinvention of China’s cultural identity is being shaped in terms of its past, but which past is being held up as the model —Communism, Confucianism, Legalism? This course looks at current engagements with China’s past with an eye toward exploring the factors shaping China’s future. It introduces the traditional lenses of Chinese thought —Confucianism, Legalism, Daoism, and Buddhism— and reflects on their potential relevance for contemporary China. In short, the course has two aims: to introduce key aspects of China’s traditional cultures and to look at ways in which these key aspects are contributing to contemporary debates in China over its future direction.
ALBERT WELTER is Professor and Head of the Department of East Asian Studies, and Associate Director of the School of International Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Arizona. His expertise lies in in East Asian (especially Chinese) Buddhism and intellectual history.