Classical Learning and the Politics of the Common Good in Early China

The talk will be conducted in hybrid format. The in-person part of the event has limited space (max. 18 people) and pre-booking is required. If you are an Oxford student or staff member and wish to book a space, please contact Giulia Falato ( To attend online, please see registration details below.

Recent work on the Documents classic has led Professor Nylan to return to her initial interests in Chinese history and what propelled her to be a Han historian, and specifically what institutions (domestic and official) are needed for human beings to flourish and for the court to claim legitimacy for most of its subjects? As a scholar of classical learning during the early empires (roughly 323 BC–AD 316), Professor Nylan asks the basic question: what do the Five Classics enjoin as vital to good governance in the way of court culture, court customs, and sociopolitical institutions? (In the early empires, the Documents classic — and not the Analects, Mencius, or Rites classics — was the key repository of authoritative political models.)