“China” is often viewed as a pristine civilization that developed in isolation, sealed off behind a figurative and physical “Great Wall.” In reality, the cultures of the East Asian Heartland have been significantly connected to others in Eurasia since the Bronze Age. In this lecture, Penn Sinologist Victor Mair maps the network of cultural contacts in the ancient Far East.
An authority on Indo-European languages and Sinology, Professor Victor Mair teaches Chinese language and literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1997, he has also been a Professor of Chinese at Sichuan University, Chengdu, China.
Mair graduated from Dartmouth College (where he was captain of the Dartmouth basketball team and tasked to guard Bill Bradley from Princeton), served in the Peace Corps in Nepal, and holds a master's degree from University of London and a PhD from Harvard University.
Dr. Mair specializes in early vernacular Chinese, and is responsible for translations of the Dao De Jing and the Zhuangzi. He is founder and editor of Sino-Platonic Papers, an academic journal of Chinese, East Asian, and Central Asian linguistics and literature, and has edited the standard Columbia History of Chinese Literature, the Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature, and the ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary. He has also collaborated on interdisciplinary research on the archeology of Eastern Central Asia. The American Philosophical Society awarded him membership in 2007.