IU Professor Nick Vogt explores ritual and power in early Chinese history in his new book published by Cambridge University Press. Vogt is a faculty member in the East Asian Languages and Cultures department at the IU Hamilton Lugar School.
Description of Kingship, Ritual, and Royal Ideology in Western Zhou China:
In accounts of Chinese history, the Western Zhou period has been lionized as a golden age of ritual, when kings created the ceremonies that underlay the traditions of imperial governance. In this book, Paul Nicholas Vogt rediscovers their roots in the vagaries of Western Zhou royal geopolitics through an investigation of inscriptions on bronze vessels, the best contemporary source for this period. He shows how the kings of the Western Zhou adapted ritual to create and retain power, while introducing changes that affected later remembrances of Zhou royal ritual and that shaped the tradition of statecraft throughout Chinese history. Using ritual and social theory to explain Western Zhou history, Vogt traces how the traditions of pre-modern China were born, how a ruling dynasty establishes and holds on to power, how religion and politics can support and restrain each other, and how ancient peoples made, used, and assigned meaning to art and artifacts.
Vogt’s research focuses on the cultural and religious history of early China. He works largely with paleographical materials, such as inscribed bronze vessels and bamboo manuscripts, and takes a special interest in “alternate histories” and other texts that didn’t make it into the classical canon. To date, his work has concentrated on the Western Zhou era (ca. 11th-8th c. BCE), a time of sage kings and culture heroes.
Vogt joined the IU Hamilton Lugar School in 2016 after four years at the Institute for Sinology, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany. He offers a broad range of courses on early China and pre-modern East Asia in general, including studies in the classical Chinese language.