Confucius Institute Lecture Explores Chinese Machismo

By Whitney Hale

(Oct. 29, 2015) — The University of Kentucky's Confucius Institute is teaming up with the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures to present a special lecture on machismo and China's Zuo tradition by scholar David Schaberg. The free public lecture, "Machismo in Early China," is from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, in the Alumni Gallery at William T. Young Library, with a reception to follow.

In a presentation on China's first great historical work, the Zuo tradition (Zuozhuan), Schaberg will show how proto-Confucian models of ritual behavior developed alongside very different models of successful human behavior that foregrounded machismo, violence and individual willfulness. By developing a complex apprehension of human character and motivation, the Zuo tradition prepared the way for the rise of Confucianism as a governing philosophy even as it furnished later generations of readers with a narrative world that exceeded the bounds of any particular system of thought.

Schaberg, who earned his doctoral degree in comparative literature from Harvard University, is the dean of the Division of Humanities and a professor of Asian languages and cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests include Pre-Qin Chinese historiography and thought, Chinese poetry, and Chinese, Greek and Latin comparative literature. Schaberg is the author of "A Patterned Past: Form and Thought in Early Chinese Historiography," a 2003 winner of the Joseph Levenson Prize from the Association of Asian Studies.

This lecture is a rare opportunity for UK students, faculty and staff to hear from one of the foremost experts on the Zuo tradition. "I am very happy that, with the generous support from UKCI, Professor Schaberg has accepted our invitation and will visit UK. Professor Schaberg is a leading scholar in the study of Chinese literature, historiography and thought," said Jianjun He, assistant professor of Chinese. "His recent study focuses on the history of oratory in early China, and he has been working as one of the three contributors to a new and complete translation of China's first great historical work, 'The Zuo Commentary,' which will be published by the University of Washington Press. Professor Schaberg's research enriches our understanding of early Chinese historiography in both oral and written traditions." 

A gateway for Chinese language, culture and art to the people of Kentucky, UK Confucius Institute provides leadership, support and coordination for Chinese language and programs in K-12 schools as well as on UK's campus; assists and facilitates establishing and maintaining faculty and student exchanges between UK colleges and Chinese universities; conducts Chinese language and cultural exchange; and promotes education about China on campus, across the Bluegrass region, and throughout the Commonwealth.