On our third day in Nanjing, Jon and I sat in on one of David's classes. I wasn't ninja enough to snap a photo of the blackboard during class, so here's a page of David's notes:
The class was 文献学, which is usually translated as philology, but judging from the lecture and from David's description, that doesn't quite work. 文献学 seems not so much to be the study of ancient texts but the study of the history of the catalogs in which these ancient classics are traditionally sorted. The content of the actual texts, apparently, are rarely discussed. For instance, this Confucian tract on education used to be considered part of the blahblahblah catalog but we now realize that to be a mistake because originally it was in the bleebleebloo catalog i.e., when you study 文献, you are studying the studiers of study. And that afternoon we studied the studiers of study for a full three hours. Not exactly my cup of tea, but it was fun at least to walk a few kilometers in the shoes of a Chinese grad student.
Did you know that during the Qing dynasty a group of Christian rebels led by the self-proclaimed Chinese brother of Jesus Christ fought their way to Nanjing and held the reigns of power for a little more than 11 years? Is this not blowing anyone else's mind? That shit really happened!!! This is a bust of the man himself, God's Chinese son, from the museum of the Taiping Rebellion in Nanjing:
The museum also featured this official seal from the Yunnan Muslim Uprising (What?! No way that really happened. Aliens must be traveling back in time and messing around with modern Chinese history or something). Anyway, I only took this picture so I could post it here and make an Arrested Development joke:
10 points to the first non-Jon reader who can remember the AD line I'm thinking of.
In the evening we bid David a temporary farewell and took a bus to Suzhou, Venice of the East.