Analysis of Textual Structures in Soviet/Russian Sinology

  • Organised by Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann, Alexei Volkov, and Karine Chemla

Short abstract

The proposed round table is aimed at a re-evaluation of the impact of the studies of non-linear organisation of early Chinese texts by the Soviet formalist (or structuralist) school in sinology (V.S. Spirin, A.M. Karapetiants, A.M. Kobzev et al.), which flourished in the Soviet sinology from the second half of the 1970s through the early 1990s. They became known to the Western sinological community due to the publication of translations of selected articles into French in a special issue of the Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident journal (no. 13, 1991), edited by Chemla, Volkov and Dorofeeva-Lichtmann. One can observe a recent raise of interest in structures of early Chinese texts in the Western sinology, represented, for instance, by the collections of articles edited by Behr (2005) as well as by Gentz and Meyer (2015). At the same time there is a revival of interest in the Soviet “sinological structuralism” in present-day Russia manifest in commented re-editions of works by Spirin and Karapetiants. The round table will call attention to the impact of the Soviet structuralist school on the studies of history of science, underestimated in contemporary Russian and Western scholarship, if compared to that produced on philosophical and literally studies. Its main goal is to seek new approaches to non-linear textual structures from the perspective of history of science (mathematics, geography/cartography) on the basis of the earlier studies of the organisers of the Round Table in these domains (see the collections of articles edited by Chemla [2004] and Bray, Dorofeeva-Lichtmann & Métailié [2007]).

Detailed abstract

In 1991 the journal Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident published a special issue devoted to the Soviet formalist (or structuralist) school in sinology titled Modèles et structures des textes chinois anciens: les formalistes soviétiques en sinology. The issue, edited by Karine Chemla, Alexei Volkov and Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann contained translations into French of a representative selection of articles by  several Soviet authors (V.S. Spirin, V.V. Dorofeeva-Lichtmann, A.K. Volkov, A.M. Karapetiants, G.A. Tkachenko, M.V. Isaeva) who identified various cases of non-linear organisation of early Chinese texts and discussed the meaning of these structures. These studies of textual structures found in early Chinese texts, initiated by the pioneering works of V.S. Spirin (1929–2002) and to some extent inspired by earlier works of theoreticians of the “Soviet structuralist school” (Yu. M. Lotman, 1922–1993; V.V. Ivanov, 1929–2017; V.N. Toporov, 1928–2005), flourished in the Soviet sinology from the second half of the 1970s through the early 1990s. Besides the partial translations from original Russian publications, the issue contained an essay review (authored by A.K.Volkov) of these studies, which provided the first attempt of their evaluation and systematisation. The issue thus made the studies of the Soviet structuralist school in sinology accessible to the Western audience, and the first reaction followed shortly after its publication: it was offered in the following special issues of the same journal, Regards obliques sur l’argumentation en Chine (1992) edited by Karine Chemla and Disposer pour dire, placer pour penser, situer pour agir: Pratiques de la position en Chine (1996) edited by Karine Chemla and Michael Lackner. It contained several papers referring to textual structures, in particular authored by Lackner (1992, 1996), who focused on the meaning of diagrammatic structures in Chinese exegetical works of the Song (960-1269) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties.

The round table is proposed to re-evaluate the place and impact of the Soviet studies in the context of new publications that appeared since the mid-1990s; the reasons are as follows:

  1. One can observe a recent raise of interest in structures of early Chinese texts in the Western sinology, e.g. collections of articles edited by Wolfgang Behr and Joachim Gentz (2005), as well as by Joachim Gentz and Dirk Meyer (2015). Another manifestation of this interest was the International workshop “Warp, Weft, Wen” organised by Behr and Indraccolo in 2018;
  2. There is a revival of interest in the Soviet “sinological structuralism” in present-day Russia; it is manifest in publication of commented re-editions of the pioneering work of V.S. Spirin 1976 (in 2006) and a collection of articles of A.M. Karapetiants (in 2015), post-mortem publication of Spirin’s manuscript (2014), and attempts of evaluation of the Russian sinological structuralism by A.I. Kobzev and R.N. Dëmin (2009, 2014) and S. Yu. Rykov (2016).

In particular, the organisers of the Round Table, all specialists in the history of Chinese science, call attention to the engagement of the Soviet structuralist school in the history of science studies, and in particular to the works authored by A.M. Karapetiants, underestimated both in contemporary Russian and Western scholarship, if compared with philosophical and literary studies. More recently, studies of non-linear structures found in the sources on the history of mathematics and geography/cartography were pursued in the Western studies on the history of Science in East Asia (Karine Chemla [2004] and Francesca Bray, Dorofeeva-Lichtmann & Georges Métailié [2007]). The main goal of the proposed round table is to critically evaluate the results obtained by all the abovementioned scholars and to seek new approaches to non-linear textual structures from inter-disciplinary perspective.

The projected discussants at the round table include scholars who have been directly involved in studies of textual structures as well as those who have been closely following these studies, including scholars who take part in two panels on non-linear textual structures proposed for the EACS conference (“Parallelism as a text-structuring device in pre-modern Chinese texts” co-organised by Wolfgang Behr and Lisa Indraccolo, and “Non-linear structures in ancient Chinese mathematical and cosmographical treatises”, co-organised by Alexei Volkov, Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann and Karine Chemla).

The names of participants in the proposed Round Table are listed alphabetically:

  • Wolfgang Behr (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
  • Karine Chemla (CNRS, France)
  • Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann (CNRS, France – MPIWG, Germany)
  • Hans van Ess (University of Munich, Germany, to be confirmed)
  • Joachim Gentz (University of Edinburg, UK)
  • Michael Lackner (IKGF, University of Nuremberg-Erlangen, Germany)
  • Lisa Indraccolo (University of Zürich, Switzerland)
  • Dirk Meyer (University of Oxford, UK, to be confirmed)
  • Maria Khayutina (University of Munich, Germany)
  • Alexei Volkov (National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan)

Participation is open to all the interested colleagues.

We propose the Round Table format in order to give a maximally large number of interested scholars an opportunity to share their observations, remarks, suggestions and work-in-progress concerning various aspects of non-linear textual structures in the Chinese tradition, as well as in other related traditions of East and South-East Asia.

REFERENCES

Behr & Gentz 2005 – Behr, Wolfgang and Joachim Gentz (ed.). Komposition und Konnotation – Figuren der Kunstprosa im alten China [Bochumer Jahrbuch zur OstasienforschungBJOAF, Band 29], München: IUDICIUM Verlag GmbH, 2005.

Behr & Indracollo 2018 – Warp, Woof, Wen  / Phoneme, Pattern, Pun : Structural Approaches to Early Chinese Texts. International Workshop co-organised by Wolfgang Behr and Lisa Indracollo. Zürich, 2018.

Bray, Dorofeeva-Lichtmann & Métailié 2007 – Bray, Francesca, Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann and Georges Métailié (eds.). Graphics and Text in the Production of Technical Knowledge in China: The Warp and the Weft. Leiden – Boston: Brill, 2007.

Chemla 2004 – Chemla, Karine (ed.). History of Science, History of Text [Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 238]. Dordrecht: Springer, 2004.

Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident 1991 Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident 13 (1991): Modèles et structures des textes chinois anciens: les formalistes soviétiques en sinologie. Textes choisis par Viéra V. Lichtmann et Alexeï K. Volkov. Traduits et edités par Karine Chemla, Alexeï K. Volkov et Viéra V. Lichtmann. Paris: PUV, 1991.

Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident 1992 Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident 14 (1992): Regards obliques sur l’argumentation en Chine, éd. Karine Chemla. Paris: PUV, 1992.

Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident 1996 Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident 18 (1996):Disposer pour dire, placer pour penser, situer pour agir,  éds. Karine Chemla et Michael Lackner. Paris: PUV, 1996.

Gentz & Meyer 2015 – Gentz, Joachim and Dirk Meyer (eds.). Literary Forms of Argumentin Early China [Sinica Leidensia vol. 123]. Leiden – Boston: Brill, 2015.

Karapetiantz 2015 – Карапетьянц А.М. Раннекитайская системология [Early Chinese systemology, in Russian]. Москва: Наука – Восточная Литература: 2015.

Kobzev & Dëmin 2009 – Кобзев А.И. и Дёмин Р.Н. “Китайская текстология как строгая наука (к 80-летию со дня рождения В.С. Спирина) [Chinese textology as exact science (a collection of papers published on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of V.S. Spirin), in Russian].” Общество и государство в Китае: XXXIX научная конференция [Учёные Записки Отдела Китая ИВ РАН. Вып. 1]. Москва: Восточная литература, 2009, pp. 472-476 (available on www.synologia.ru)

Kobzev & Dëmin 2014 – Кобзев А.И. и Дёмин Р.Н. “Основоположник синологической структуралистики в России (О судьбе и творчестве В. С. Спирина) [The founder of the sinological structuralism in Russia (On life and activities of V.S. Spirin), in Russian].” In Spirin 2014, pp. 5-11.

Lackner 1992 – Lackner, Michael. “Argumentation par diagrammes: une architecture à base de mots. Le Ximing  (l’Inscription Occidentale) depuis Zhang Zai jusqu’au Yanjitu.” Extrême-Orient – Extrême-Occident 14: 131-168.

Lackner, 1996 – Lackner, Michael. “La position d’une expression dans un texte: explorations diagrammatiques de la signification.” Extrême-Orient – Extrême-Occident 18: 35-49.

Rykov 2016 – Rykov, Stanislav. “The ‘School of Structural Analysis’ in Modern Russian Sinology.” Journal of World Philosophies 1 (Winter 2016): 26–40.

Spirin 1976/2006 – Спирин В.С. Построение древнекитайских текстов [Structure of ancient Chinese texts, in Russian]. Москва: Наука – Главная Редакция Восточной Литературы, 1976 (reprinted in 2006 – Санкт Петербург: Петербургское Востоковедение).

Spirin 2014 – Спирин В.С. (пер.). ДЭН СИ-ЦЗЫ: “Мудрец Дэн Си” 鄧析子 (Китайский классический канон в русских переводах) [V.S. Spirin (tr.), DENG XI-ZI: “Philosopher Deng Xi”鄧析子, (Chinese classics in Russian translations), in Russian]. Москва: Наука – Восточная Литература, 2014.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room 6
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Roundtable Discussion