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Welcome to the home page of the Society for Ming Studies. The Society is a scholarly organization that promotes the study of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). It publishes a journal and a book series, as well as sponsoring panels on Ming topics at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies. This site includes both information about the Society and its activities and material of wider interest to scholars of the Ming.

This page is hosted by the Faculty of Arts, University of British Columbia, with support from the Department of Asian Studies. The Society is an independent organization not affiliated with or sponsored by UBC.

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SMS Panel 2016: Language in the Ming

The 2016 meeting of the Society for Ming Studies will take place on Friday, April 1 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. After the business meeting, there will be a panel on “Language in the Ming,” with the following presentations.

Date: Friday, April 1, 2016
Time: 8:30 pm
Location: Virginia Room, Sheraton Seattle Hotel

Richard VanNess Simmons (Rutgers): “Spoken Mandarin in the Ming”

The prestige spoken Mandarin koine known as Guānhuà 官話 is a descendant of the Mandarin dialects of the central plains that were pushed southward in the 12th century when the Song court vacated the north to escape the Jurchen invasion. Subsequently, a somewhat evolved version of central plains Mandarin came to be widely spoken in the regions of what are now Anhui and Jiangsu, the territories from which Zhu Yuanzhang eventually marched forth to expel the Yuan and establish the Ming. As a result of Zhu’s conquest and rule, that new Mandarin became the foundation for the commonly accepted prestige spoken koine that was current throughout China in the Ming and into the Qing. My talk will introduce the various kinds of evidence we have for the nature of that Mandarin koine and describe what we learn from that evidence regarding what spoken Mandarin was like in the Ming.

Wang Sixiang (Columbia): “Language and Empire: Asymmetries of Knowledge/Power in Early Modern China-Korea Relations.”

Early modern Korean and Chinese states all employed linguistic intermediaries: frontiersmen, professional interpreters, palace eunuchs, and defectors—to navigate diplomatic relations with one another. The social backgrounds, official status, relative prestige, and overall significance of these figures varied tremendously in different time periods (as did their relative effectiveness). This talk will discuss how institutional and political changes in institutions of language interpretation also affected the relative power and political initiative available to each side. Whereas Korean attention to the mastery of Mongol, Chinese and Manchu language provided space for maneuver, especially when mastery of spoken Korean was neglected at the imperial court. At times, the converse was also true; space for Korean agency diminished when the Korean court had to confront imperial agents with knowledge of Korean language and local Korean conditions. The intermediate space of translation became a contested site, where control translated into tangible advantages.

Catherine Swatek (University of British Columbia): Title TBA, on dialect in fiction and drama

Minutes of 2015 Meeting, Chicago

Minutes of the annual meeting of the Society of Ming Studies, March 27 2015

Submitted by Acting Secretary Sarah Schneewind

  • Outgoing President Joe Dennis welcomed everyone and urged all to subscribe to the journal and thus become members, even though we have plenty of money. He noted that we might do a conference if we continue to be in funds. He announced that the Geiss foundation has money for book subventions, and that the Society does sponsor AAS panels. He urged all to send their biographies or updates for the website to webmaster and incoming President Bruce Rusk at UBC.
  • The members and visitors present introduced themselves.
  • Desmond Cheung is the new book review editor for the journal and urged all to let him know about their interests so he can solicit reviews.
  • Journal editor Ihor Pidhainy reported that Maney is pretty happy with us at 219 subscribers, and that we are being read: there were 5600 downloads in 2014 of which the US and Canada accounted for only 40%, so we are reaching a world-wide audience.
  • Elections were held. Anne Gerritsen was unanimously elected as the next President (to take office in two years). Du Yongtao, Li Yuhang, and Brigid Vance were elected as At-Large board members. Sarah Basham was elected as Graduate Student Representative.
  • Ann Waltner introduced the evening’s panel by asking how we look at objects and what they can tell us that is different from what we learn from texts. What questions should we ask? And how can historians or scholars generally get better at thinking about material culture? Are history and art history moving in parallel directions? Yuhang Li gave a paper entitled “Mimicking Guanyin through Hairpins as a Means of Transcendence.” Jinhui Han gave a paper on the practices of placing tin utensils in Ming tombs. Anne Gerritsen gave a presentation on Ming objects in ethnographic museums, and the different ways they appear there from in art museums. Discussion followed these very interesting papers, which amply demonstrated the ways in which intelligent consideration of material objects can teach us things we simply could not know from texts, and the meeting adjourned.

Annual meeting and panel

From Society for Ming Studies President Joe Dennis:

The Society’s annual meeting will be held 7:30-9:30 Friday, March 27, in the Colorado Room of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Suites.

It will include a panel on Archaeology and Objects in Ming studies, with three speakers: Anne Gerritsen (Warwick/Leiden), Jin Hui-han (archaeology and history, Minnesota), and Li Yuhang (art history, Wisconsin), chaired by Ann Waltner (Minnesota).


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