Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook


Editor:Wendy Swartz, Robert Ford Campany, Yang Lu (陆扬), Jessey Choo

Columbia University Press, March 11, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0231159876



This innovative sourcebook builds a dynamic understanding of China's early medieval period (220--589) through an original selection and arrangement of literary, historical, religious, and critical texts. A tumultuous and formative era, these centuries saw the longest stretch of political fragmentation in China's imperial history, resulting in new ethnic configurations, the rise of powerful clans, and a pervasive divide between north and south.

Deploying thematic categories, the editors sketch the period in a novel way for students and, by featuring many texts translated into English for the first time, recast the era for specialists. Thematic topics include regional definitions and tensions, governing mechanisms and social reality, ideas of self and other, relations with the unseen world, everyday life, and cultural concepts. Within each section, the editors and translators introduce the selected texts and provide critical commentary on their historical significance, along with suggestions for further reading and research.


A rich and pathbreaking collection of materials that span the humanistic discipliines, this volume includes key texts that should not be omitted in a sourcebook of this kind as well as many that are available for the first time in English. Its thematic organization encourages new ways of thinking about the period that transcend traditional boundaries. The expert translations and extensive critical matter will make this an indispensable resource on early medieval China.

(Pauline Yu, President, American Council of Learned Societies)

Edited by leading figures in the fields of early medieval Chinese literature, history, and religion, this is a truly outstanding volume--beautifully conceived and superbly organized, with excellent selections of sources, careful translations. and informative introductions.

(Michael Puett, author of To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China)