An NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers on "Law, State, and Individual in Ancient Greece, Rome, and China" will be held at the University of California, Berkeley, June 16-July 25, 2003. Applications are invited from college teachers in a wide variety of disciplines and specializations. In addition to specialists in the Greek, Roman, and Chinese traditions, we strongly encourage scholars in other fields such as European history, law and legal studies, historical sociology, political theory, and cultural and literary studies to apply. We believe that our discussions will be all the more stimulating when the participants bring to them a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives. All the reading of the seminar is in original texts in translation—no knowledge of Greek, Latin, or Chinese is expected.
The seminar will be divided into three parts:
foundational narratives of political community
law, rhetoric, and public life
formal political thought.
The three meetings comprising Part One will provide an introduction to the nature of the sources that form the foundation of the work of the seminar, and also will broach some of its leading themes. Fundamental differences in the earliest and most important Chinese and Greek narratives of heroic action will enable us to focus attention immediately on the radically different conceptions of the individual’s relation to the political order in the two traditions. Readings will include selections from the Iliad, Livy, and two historical texts that were at the center of Chinese education for over fifteen centuries, the Classic of Documents and the Zuo zhuan (Tso chuan). We will then explore the different conceptions of the individual in the rich Greco-Roman and early Chinese biographical traditions, and finally move to a session on "Individual and Collectivity: Women and Narratives of Opposition," which will compare Sophocles’ Antigone with Chinese village opera and folktales.
In Part Two the focus will first shift to the profoundly different conceptions of law in China, Greece, and Rome (with emphasis on the first and third), and the philosophic foundations of those differences. We will then turn to a comparison of the careers of those who served in high office in these three cultures, and will also examine the contrasting ideal types of the Roman public man and the Chinese scholar-bureaucrat. Readings will include selections from the Tang (T’ang) Code and Justinian’s Institutes, and selections from Thucydides, Cicero, and Tacitus to be read against Chinese texts on education and the ideal official. Brief selections from Aristotle’s Rhetoric will be used to contrast the lay judges/jurors of the Athenian polis with the jurists and officials of the Roman and Chinese legal systems.
Part Three will take up major themes in Greek and Chinese political philosophy: the connection between ideas of legitimate political authority and conceptions of human nature; the moral-psychological dimensions of political authority; and the profound differences in conceptions of citizenship and the rule of law in the two traditions. Readings will include selections from Thucydides, Plato’s Republic, and Aristotle’s Politics on the Greek side, and from the greatest voices of early Confucianism, Mencius and Xunzi (Hsun Tzu), and the leading theoretician of Legalism, Han Feizi (Han Fei Tzu), on the Chinese side.
The seminar is founded on the belief that nothing stimulates reflection on unarticulated cultural assumptions more effectively than confronting historical and political traditions that do not share those assumptions. For example, there is no word in the traditional Chinese lexicon for "citizen"—the individual considered as a bearer of political rights and obligations, and as a member of the political community. It is more natural to use the collective noun min—"the people, the mass of subjects"—or one of its variants and synonyms when referring to those who are ruled. Other fundamental contrasts also quickly become obvious when comparing the political ideas and institutions of Greek and Roman antiquity with those of China: the Chinese civil servant vs. the Greco-Roman citizen-politician; the rule of officials vs. the rule of law; ritual vs. rights in the discourse of the individual and the community; the assumption of hierarchy as the foundation of any political order as opposed to ongoing debates about the nature and scope of political equality.
The stipend for the seminar is $3,700. A check for 50% of the stipend will be available at the beginning of the seminar.
Application forms and instructions may be downloaded from our website, and also from the NEH website (http://www.neh.fed.us/grants/ guidelines/ seminars.html.) Your application should be in hard copy, postmarked no later than March 10, 2003, and should be addressed to the address below.
ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS:
David Cohen is Professor of Rhetoric and Classics at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published widely in the fields of classical law and social history, and regularly offers graduate and undergraduate courses on Greek and Roman rhetoric, law and society, and classical political theory. David Johnson is Professor of Chinese History at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published books and articles on topics in Chinese social and cultural history ranging from early historiography to late imperial popular culture, and has taught courses on early Greek and Chinese philosophy, European and Chinese historiography, and the comparative history of technology.
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