Ancient China in Context

The creation of the Chinese Empire in 221 BC brought to an end a centuries-long process of state rebuilding, law creation, and war. From this turbulent background of power struggles within and open conflict without, the early Spring and Autumn period and its sequel, the much bloodier Warring States, there emerged a new concept of the relation between the state and its people, a growing body of performance texts dramatizing and the self-concept of the Chinese states, and the philosophies of China's Golden Age of Thought - a treasure of the world cultural heritage.

A full understanding of these early centuries has long been hampered by uncertainty about the nature and date of the early texts. To this problem, Bruce and Taeko Brooks, principals of the Warring States Project at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, bring the fruits of decades of research. The scholarly reaction to the first proposal for these books was enthusiastic, and response to what has so far been published continues to be highly favorable.

First to be released is a survey of the Warring States period, called The Emergence of China. It weaves together the contributions of the major Warring States schools of thought into a consecutive account of the intellectual and social history which preceded the creation of the Chinese Empire. Next is Spring and Autumn, based on the neglected contemporary evidence from the preserved court chronicle of the state of Lu, which gives a vivid contemporary picture of what life was like in the centuries before Confucius, as well as the time in which Confucius lived, and showing how that world transformed itself into the world that followed Confucius, and to which Confucius himself made a major contribution. Other volumes covering the major individual texts will follow, giving a similarly detailed inside view of the repertoire texts (the Yi, the Shr, and the Shu) and the major schools of thought (military, Dauist, Mician, and Confucian), and how each of these traditions gradually came together, whether by adding new dance pieces to the Shr (Poetry) repertoire, or new sayings of Mencius to the previous repository of Mencius sayings. Several of these books include Chinese characters for the reading selections, and can thus serve as material for language courses..

Titles in the Series
Listed in chronological order of their contents, with the introductory Emergence coming last

Detailed descriptions are available at the above pages, which include an order link for books whose publication has been announced.

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7 Dec 2016 / Contact The Project / Exit to Publications Page