With a focus on China, Shoufu Yin explores East Asian, Eurasian, and global histories from about the eleventh to the seventeenth centuries, a period bridging the “medieval” and “early modern” times (or “mid-imperial” and “late imperial” periods in Chinese historiography). Broadly interested in political, social, and intellectual cultures, he works extensively with official documents in different languages—literary Sinitic (classical Chinese), Korean, Manchu, Mongolian, Persian, and Latin, to name a few—employing methods such as manuscriptology, ritual/object studies, book history, normative philosophy, and digital humanities. In doing so, he seeks to understand how ordinary individuals worked with the empire and theorized politics. Ultimately, his passion lies in writing a new kind of transcultural history that foregrounds the intellectual contributions of previously under-represented groups.
He is working on a book manuscript tentatively titled “The ‘Chinese’ Rhetorical Curriculum and a Transcultural History of Political Thought, ca. 1250–1650,” which provides a new narrative of the history of early modern political thought by examining the rhetorical curriculum that flourished in East Eurasia. His long-term goals include completing a monograph devoted to the reimagination and reinvention of the “Chinese” political tradition in the context of early globalization (ca. 1200–1800). His other publications, both in peer-reviewed journals and on public-oriented platforms, instantiate his take on how previously untapped sources from the past may shed light on themes of contemporary importance, including individual liberty, gender equality, environmental crisis, and human–animal relationships.
History of Early China
This course explores the history of China from its origins until the thirteenth century. In terms of methodology, it introduces the crafts and toolkits by which historians understand the past—from source criticism to data visualization, from archaeological sciences to art historical analysis, as well as other methods. In terms of content, it helps us to understand Chinese cultures and societies through both well-studied and previously unknown materials. We shall divine with animal bones, dream with butterflies, retreat with elephants, build an empire/khanate from scratch, follow female commanders onto battlefields, and participate in voting and even the full-scale referendum. The course is open to all students, and no previous background in history or the Chinese language is required or expected.
“Toward a Minimalist Approach to Democracy: Ideas Excavated from the First Large-scale Referendum in World History.” Under review and publicized via Social Science Research Network (SSRN). [SSRN version]
“Rewarding Female Commanders in Medieval China: Official Documents, Rhetorical Strategies, and Gender Order.” Journal of Chinese History 6.1 (2022): forthcoming. [pre-print version] An earlier version of my manuscript, entitled “On the Pseudo-Recognition of Female Commanders in Medieval China: War, Gender, and Imperial Rhetoric” is publicized via SSRN.
[with Michael Nylan] “Majority Rule in Imperial China.” Under Review, The Cambridge History of Democracy, Volume 1: From Democratic Beginnings to c.1350. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
[with Michael Nylan] “On Wen and Wu: Reading the Sunzi in Historical Context.” In Norton Critical Edition of The Art of War, edited by Michael Nylan. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2021.
“On the Importance of Having Atrocious Dreams: Social and Cultural Transformations of Tenth-Century China and Beyond” (in Chinese). Zaoqi zhongguoshi yanjiu 早期中國史研究 (Early and Medieval Chinese History) 12 (2020): 151-202. [publisher’s version]
“Review of Nicolas Tackett, The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy.” Frontiers of History in China 9 (2014): 640–643. An expanded version in Chinese is published in Tang Song lishi pinglun 唐宋歷史評論 (The Tang and Song History Review) 1 (2015): 276–295. [publisher’s version]