Luce Foundation Supports USC Summer Kambun Workshop

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/11/14

Thanks to a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, 6 graduate students from North American universities will receive financial support to attend the USC Summer Kambun Workshop held in 2014 and 2015 in the USC East Asian Library. Since funding for graduate student research is difficult to come by, the grant provides much-needed support for the next generation of U.S. early Japan scholars.

Organized by USC Dornsife College history professor Joan Piggott, the workshop is the only training program of its kind in North America, enabling graduate students from top universities to learn the Sino-Japanese language (called kambun) during a month of intensive, hands-on sessions with specialists from the University of Tokyo and other prestigious Japanese universities.

Many of Japan’s oldest works of literature and history—particularly those written prior to 1600—are written in kambun, which is a Japanese writing system based on classical Chinese. Studying kambun texts reveals a rich history of cultural exchanges between premodern cultures in China and Japan. Therefore, fluency in reading and translating kambun is critical for graduate students in early Japan studies.

The 2014 workshop will take place from July 14 to August 8. It will focus on the mid-Heian-period courtier journal, Shoyuki, by Fujiwara Sanesuke (957-1046). The journal documents courtly life over a fifty-year period in the 10th and 11th centuries and offers rich insights into Heian-era politics and culture. Professor Hideo Yamaguchi from the University of Tokyo’s Historiographical Institute (Shiryô Hensanjo) will lead the workshop sessions with Professor Joan Piggott.

The Henry Luce Foundation awarded the USC Libraries a $37,000 grant to support participation in the workshop by graduate students who specialize in early Japan studies at North American universities. In addition, a portion of the funds will go to enhancing the materials available on the Summer Kambun Workshop website and providing library resources in support of the 2014 and 2015 workshops.

In collaboration with USC's East Asian Library, Professor Piggott has organized the annual USC Summer Kambun Workshop since 2004. She established the workshop at Cornell University in 1997.  

To learn more about the USC Summer Kambun Workshop or register for the 2014 workshop, visit the Project for Premodern Japan Studies website. The registration deadline is March 15, 2014. 

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