Prof. Chang Chuen Memorial Public Lecture Series by Prof. Edward L. Shaughnessy from the University of Chicago

2017-03-23


The “Prof. Chang Chuen Memorial Public Lecture Series,” endowed with donations from the family of the late Prof. Chang Chuen and his former students and colleagues, was set up in the recognition of his valuable contribution to the Department of History and scholarship. Prof. Chang was appointed as the first Head of Department in 1978. The first donation arrived in September 2001 and the account was created in April 2002. The inauguration ceremony and the first three lectures were delivered on 7 February 2004.

The 18th round of the memorial lecture series was held on 14 March 2017. Prof. Edward L. Shaughnessy (夏含夷教授), Lorraine J. and Herrlee G. Creel Distinguished Service Professor in Early Chinese Studies, The University of Chicago, was invited to deliver a Lecture on “Of Trees, a Son, and Kingship: Recovering an Ancient Chinese Dream”. All History Majors in various Programmes were invited to attend the lecture. Students from other majors and the general public were also welcomed to join and earn CCL credits. Over 100 teachers and students participated in the lecture and showed their interest in this very special topic.

It is mentioned that the first volume of the Tsinghua University Warring States bamboo-strip manuscripts contained a text with passages that matched medieval quotations of a text referred to as Cheng wu (程寤) or awakening at Cheng, which was said to be a lost chapter of the Yi Zhou shu (逸周書) or leftover Zhou documents. As the passages concerned one of the Chinese literature’s earliest interpretations of a dream and were quoted in medieval encyclopedias in their sections of dreams, Prof. Shaughnessy aimed to discuss the significance of such discovery, both for Chinese textual history and interpretation of the particular dream.

In Prof. Shaughnessy’s lecture, he explained in details of a few paragraphs extracted from Cheng wu by sharing the symbolic of trees in that particular text. He emphasised that textual criticism and comparison can help reconstruct the original text and that leads to a better understanding of historical episodes.