Cluster Leader: Ming Chen, Peking University
This cluster will investigate the linguistic and graphic devices through and of which East Asian religious texts were produced, and the significances that language and script themselves possessed, beyond the content they conveyed. It will examine the aesthetics, semiotics, and pragmatics of written language, with a special emphasis on forms other than standard Literary Sinitic in regular script. On the visual front, this may include the use of Indic and other non-Sinitic writing systems, whether real or imaginary; decorative and archaizing forms; talismanic and other writing with supernatural efficacy; text-image interactions; and the design and layout of scriptographic and epigraphic materials. On the linguistic front, it will examine how the roles and relative prestige of languages are thematized, explicitly or implicitly, in East Asian religious texts and practices, especially translations and pseudo-translations, documents with glosses and other linguistic annotations, and the religious role of vocalization.
Our sources will include inscriptions and manuscripts in or containing non-Sinitic scripts, especially those from outside Han-majority states (that is, excluding Mogolian writing in the Yuan, Manchu writing in the Qing, etc.) that were used in an East Asian context, such as Sanskrit inscriptions from Juyong Guan and Dazhong Temple, Beijing; any material employing ornamental scripts associated with Buddhism and other religious traditions; glossed and otherwise linguistically annotated documents; religious manuscripts that claim to be translations or otherwise invoke a non-East Asian linguistic field; and talismanic and other text-images deriving their power from their visual form.