Research at the Department of Chinese Language and Literature

Meritocracy and Dynasticism in China

  • Duration: since 2022
  • Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
  • Direction: Dr. Paul Fahr

The project examines the interplay between two competing claims to power in the political tradition of premodern China: rule by competence and achievement (meritocracy) vs. rule by descent (dynasticism). It explores how these two claims were repeatedly renegotiated and balanced, especially in the course of usurpations of the throne. The project thus aims to shed light on the institutional structure of the Chinese monarchy and to compare it to its European counterparts.

Securing governance through consent: The institutionalisation of political criticism in early China

  • Duration: since 2016
  • Direction: Prof. Dr. Christian Schwermann
  • Project team: Felix Bohlen, Paul Fahr

The aim of this project, which is concerned with the history of remonstrance (jiàn 諫, jiànyì 諫議) in pre-imperial and early imperial China, is threefold: Firstly, it explores whether an increasing concentration of Macht at early Chinese courts and the concomitant competitive pressure within their elites led to the development of a particular conception of Macht and Herrschaft. Secondly, it investigates the extent to which the institutionalisation of political criticism in the field of remonstrance served as a technique of governance. Thirdly, it enquires into the development of political censure, its origins, forms and conceptions and the objectives of those who articulated it. The project is itself part of a larger DFG-Collaborative Research Centre (1167) "Macht and Herrschaft – Premodern Configurations in a Transcultural Perspective", situated at the University of Bonn.

Compilation of a systematic digital index of contents for Suwenxue congkan

  • Duration: since 2013
  • Direction: Prof. Rüdiger Breuer, Ph.D.; Prof. Dr. Christine Moll-Murata
  • Project team: Lisa Herrmann, Johanna Marie Poppek, Anna Schulte, Kai Wycisk (2013–2014), Xiong Hongyue (2014), Huang Gufeng (2014–2015), Yang Yang (2015–2016)

The project concerns the 620-volume collection Suwenxue congkan 俗文學叢刊 / Folk Literature: Materials in the Collection of the Institute of History and Philology (Taipei: Shin Wen Feng, 2002–2006), which represents the holdings of one of the most important research libraries for so-called popular literature (including plays, prose narrative, folk songs, broadside ballads, and humorous texts) in the Chinese speaking region. The database will allow quick and convenient access to the titles and authors of all individual texts.

Pen-Names of modern Chinese authors

  • Duration: 1999–2005
  • Direction: Prof. Dr. Raoul D. Findeisen †
  • Project team: André Frick (1999–2002), Burkhard Risse, Astrid Falk (2002–2005)

In cooperation with specialists from other centres of research (London, Lyon, Shanghai) data was collected and collated in the Department on the use of pen-names by 20th century Chinese writers:

Raoul D. Findeisen. "Amendments and Additions to the List of Pen-Names of Modern Chinese Authors / Zhongguo xiandai wenxue zuozhe biminglu buyi xubian", typescript, Ruhr University Bochum, Faculty of East Asian Studies, Department of Chinese Language and Literature, 1999, 3rd ed. 2001.

Literature and Publishing in the Republican Era:
A new perspective on literary production in China (1912–1949)

  • Duration: 2003–2005
  • Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
  • Direction: Dr. Christina Neder

This research project addressed the publishing sector in the Republican Era (1912–1949) as one of the key factors in the ‘literary field’. Using case studies, the study, which was orientated towards the history of mentality, examined the substantive, mental and cultural structures that characterised the Chinese publishing sector in the first half of the 20th century with respect to the production, distribution and reception of literature. One of the objectives was to close the information gap on the social and cultural history of the Chinese publishing industry in the Republican Era and its significance for modern Chinese literature.

Establishing a Research Unit on Taiwanese Culture and Literature

  • Duration: 1999–2002
  • Funding: Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation
  • Direction: Dr. Christina Neder, Dr. Charlotte Dunsing
  • Project team: Ines Susanne Schilling; Björn Mahr

Building on an extensive collection of works relating to Taiwanese literature and culture, which was put together under former Department Head Professor Martin, a research project funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C. was carried out from September 1999 to August 2002. In the framework of this project the Research Unit on Taiwanese Culture and Literature was established and officially inaugurated on November 13, 2002.

The activities of the Research Unit hitherto have involved expanding library resources and and making them available online, organising seminars with visiting scholars from Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China in the summer semesters of 2000 and 2002, holding an international workshop in March 2001, publishing a research bibliography, and cooperating with China-oriented academic institutions in Taiwan, Europe and the USA.

German-Chinese academic and cultural relations in North Rhine-Westphalia:
Developments and perspectives

  • Duration: 1996–1999
  • Funding: NRW Ministry of Science and Technology
  • Direction: Prof. Dr. Helmut Martin †, Dr. Christina Neder
  • Project team: André Frick, Alexandra Wiegand

The objective of the project was to identify and evaluate the relations between higher-education and cultural institutions in Northrhine Westphalia and China. Findings were documented in a handbook:

Helmut Martin and Christina Neder (ed.): "Kompendium der deutsch-chinesischen Wissenschafts- und Kulturbeziehungen in NRW". Bochum: Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Fakultät für Ostasienwissenschaften, Sektion Sprache und Literatur Chinas,1999.

The compendium and final report can be purchased through the at net cost (15 Euro).

History of German-speaking China studies

  • Duration: 1996–1999
  • Funding: NRW Ministry of Science and Technology
  • Direction: Prof. Dr. Helmut Martin †
  • Project team: André Frick, Britta Jubin

The objective of the project was to document the history of Chinese studies in German-speaking countries and to examine specifically how each individual field of the discipline has developed. It was divided into several subprojects:

1997 saw the publication of the volume Clavis Sinica – Zur Geschichte der Chinawissenschaften: Materialien für die 8. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Vereinigung für Chinastudien (DVCS). The collection contains significant texts on various historical and substantive aspects of China studies. A second edition of the publication is now available through the .

A further publication contained the conference papers from the 8th annual conference of Deutsche Vereinigung für Chinastudien (DVCS) which took place in October 1997, the theme of it being "China Studies – Problems and Perspectives of the Development in German-speaking Countries". The conference papers were published by Institut für Asienkunde, Hamburg, as the second volume of Clavis Sinica:

Helmut Martin / Christiane Hammer (ed.): Chinawissenschaften – Deutschsprachige Entwicklungen: Geschichte, Personen, Perspektiven. Hamburg: Institut für Asienkunde, 1999. (Mitteilungen des Instituts für Asienkunde; 303)

Biographical material is a particularly significant aspect of historical research. The first part of Wolfgang Franke’s autobiography (Im Banne Chinas. Autobiographie eines Sinologen: 1912–1950 [edition cathay; 11]) was published in a second edition. The second part of Franke’s autobiographical writings appeared in 1999.

European Project on China’s modernization: Cultural and economic change today

  • Duration: 1990–1995
  • Funding: Volkswagen-Stiftung
  • Direction: Prof. Dr. Helmut Martin †, Prof. Dr. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath
  • Project team: Caroline Blank, Stefanie Elies, Christa Gescher, Christina Neder, Karin Schalber et al.

The project report was published in the series edition cathay:

Helmut Martin / Carsten Herrmann-Pillath. Vernetzungen: Wirtschaftlicher und kultureller Wandel in China &ndash. Entwicklungen, Strukturen, Protagonisten. Europäisches Projekt zur Modernisierung in China. Bericht über Forschungsergebnisse und Publikationen 1991–1997. Bochum 1998, ISBN 3-89733-003-2. 206 S.; 23DM, 168 öS, 21 sFr