Donald Harper

Donald Harper

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: East Asian Studies

Competition: US & Canada

University of Chicago

Donald Harper is among the foremost experts on early Chinese manuscripts and a frequent collaborator with colleagues around the world in deciphering and interpreting these texts as archaeologists continue to unearth them. He specializes in early Chinese civilization, focusing on what the manuscripts of the time can reveal about this early culture, especially its philosophy, religion, and science. His translation of an early 2nd century B.C. document, published as Early Chinese Medical Literature: The Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts (London: Kegan Paul, 1998), is one example of his work in this area. His other publications include “Poets and Primates: Wang Yanshou’s Poem on the Macaque,” Asia Major, 14, 3rd series (2001); and “Contracts with the Spirit World in Han Common Religion: The Xuning Prayer and Sacrifice Documents of A.D. 79,” which appeared in Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie, 14 (2004). He also contributed the chapter “Warring States: Natural Philosophy and Occult Thought” to the Cambridge History of Ancient China (Cambridge UP, 1998), edited by Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy.

Currently Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, a position he has held since 1999, Mr. Harper previously taught at Bowdoin College (1988-90) and the University of Arizona (1990-99). He has also held visiting positions at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and at the University of California, Berkeley; in 1997 he was Directeur d’études invité of the Section des Sciences Religieuses at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.

Mr. Harper was a German Humboldt Foundation Fellow at Munich University’s Institute for the History of Medicine (1990-91) and an ACLS Fellow twice (1990-91, 2008-09). During his Guggenheim term, he continued his study of China in the age of manuscripts, 4th to 10th century A.D.


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