WSWG Conferences are an attempt to bring about a "seminar" mode of interaction among those working in the Sinological field. They are not an occasion for lectures: nothing is more obsolete than scholars reading to each other out of their published works. They are instead an opportunity for contact among people working on compatible topics, possibly from more than one disciplinary point of view. They offer the possibility of receiving professional criticism on work that has not yet been published, and the possibility of joint planning for work that has not yet been done. Experience has shown that such a forum is valuable for its participants. The description below should be read as a recipe for how that forum is created, and what rules of propriety govern it. They describe the Amherst versions of WSWG Conferences. Within suitable limits, they will also apply to WSWG Conferences hosted by other institutions.
WSWG Conferences are invitational. Those responding to an open call for papers should secure approval of their paper topic before planning to participate. Other pages on this web site will suggest the Project's distinctive methods, which form part of the background for Conference discussions.
The language of the Conferences is English. We regret that systematic translation from and into other languages is not available.
There are two types of WSWG Conference: general and focused. We do not impose a "theme" on general Conferences. Rather, within our chronological limits (Spring and Autumn through Han Wu-di), we want to know about, and to discuss, the best of what people are doing. Some topics for a general Conference may be suggested in the Call for Papers announcement, but an excellent paper on any Warring States topic is always welcome. The more focused Conferences either attempt to exploit a particular comparative or analytical possibility, or to bring together people who are working on the same topic.
In general, we are interested in topics which raise and solve questions about the nature and date of texts, or develop the methodology for dealing with such problems. The categories in which articles are organized in the Project's Journal are:
- Language, Ambience, and Methodology
- Texts and Text Formation
- Historical Studies, including Historiography and Comparative History
Papers on non-Chinese subjects of philological or comparative-history relevance are very welcome in the journal; to aid readers in finding them, they are placed last in each of the above segments of a Journal issue.
We seek to maintain the high analytical tradition of the Renaissance humanists. A good WSWG Conference paper should thus be analytical rather than celebratory. It should leave you not with the feeling, Wow, Author X is wonderful (or contemptible). But rather, Wow, so that is where Text X is coming from, or Wow, so that is what Texts X and Y were arguing about, or Wow, I had never thought of noticing factor Z.
Conferences typically meet on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts. Some have been hosted by other institutions, and we are open to such possibilities for future Conferences. Conferences are typically preceded by electronic prediscussion on our general E-mail list, WSW, of sometimes on a more specialized list.
There are no registration fees, and for those taking part electronically, no travel or incidental costs for participants. For those attending in person, the Project or other Conference host usually pays all expenses except travel and personal incidentals. Papers can be made available for prediscussion by being posted to the Discussion Forum page of the Project web site; send your PDF to the conference organizers. Abstracts, outlines, or discussion memoranda (suggesting a topic for future investigation) are equally welcome.
Announcement of Conference dates and deadlines will be made as early as possible. Once your paper topic is accepted, please immediately provide your abstract for posting.
If due to later circumstances you are in the end unable to attend the Conference, notify us immediately, so that we can adjust our plans accordingly.
On request, we can (1) send you an official letter when your topic is accepted, and/or (2) send a final letter certifying the actual presentation of the paper. These may facilitate reimbursement of travel costs by your home institution, or make the Conference more readily reportable as a curriculum vitae event.
All papers posted to a Project E-list or distributed on paper are regarded as copyright by their authors, and normal citation proprieties apply to them. The theory that unpublished work is fair game for appropriation by others is explicitly rejected. We will deal as may seem appropriate with any violation of that understanding which is brought to our attention. In addition to these standard sanctions, we offer the further protection of print for those papers selected for inclusion in the Project's Journal. (Conferences in our other field, New Testament Studies, have their own journal, called Alpha. Similar procedures apply.
For general Conferences, there is a standard 10-minute limit (about 3.5 typed pages) on presentation time. When special time constraints exist, we assume predistribution of all papers, and reduce presentation time to a brief recapitulation. Discussion time remains at 10 minutes. Please don't bring 20 pages and start in to read them in your 10-minute or 5-minute slot. For thematically focused Conferences, it may be 30 rather than 20 minutes, but we would still prefer a reminder summary of a previously distributed paper to a reading of a new paper. It is much more conducive to effective use of the brief discussion time.
We will appreciate your leaving a copy of your paper (including any handout) with us at the end of the meeting, for our confidential records. Those developing a Conference presentation into a possible Journal article may consult the Information for Authors page in our Journal section.
The schedules for general Conferences are tight, and we wish to hear from as many people as possible. Presenters should thus keep to their allotted 10 minutes (or 5 minutes for recapitulations). If you go over your allowed time, you will proportionately reduce the time available for discussion. In discussion, we also ask that comments be brief and well focused. The Moderator may interrupt a lengthy comment in the interest of hearing from a wider range of opinions.
Conferences are tape-recorded, to provide a record of comments for the Journal editor and for other reference. The prediscussion equivalent is the relevant E-list message archive, which is available at the time and afterward to all current members of that list.
We do not recommend the use of slides, opaque projectors, or computer-generated aids such as PowerPoint, all of which raise costs, and many of which present mechanical problems. If you have a paper handout, bring with you as many copies as the number of people attending, plus 2 copies for the Conference permanent record. We recommend black and white for the handout. If you use color, consider in advance how the same material might be presented without color, in a final printed form.
It goes more or less without saying that there is no Discussant at WSWG Conferences. All papers presented are immediately available for comment by the Discussancy of the Whole.
If someone needs to get a message to you during a Conference session, they may call [University] Conference Services at (413) 577-8100 and ask to have the message delivered. To reach a Hotel guest outside of Conference hours, call the Hotel desk at (413) 549-6000 and ask to be connected. If there is no answer from the room, you can leave a voicemail message, or ask to have a paper message left at the desk.
A PhD is not required for participation. Students or independent scholars, or scholars in other fields who have a theory that merits Sinological consideration, are invited to submit a proposal, and to join others in discussing it. Conference sessions may be audited by students from the host institution. Their number will be kept small to avoid affecting the professionally focused character of the main discussion.
We are grateful for your interest in the Conference discussion. We hope you will find your engagement with us profitable, and we will be glad to have your suggestions for improving future Conferences.
22 June 2006 / Contact The Project / Exit to Conferences Page