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Adam Smith

Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania

Curator of Chinese Antiquities, University of Pennsylvania Museum

Fellow, Society of Fellows, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2009–2012)

Headshot of Adam Smith

Adam Smith’s research concerns the emergence and evolution of the Chinese writing system during the late second and first millennia BCE, as well as the early literate activities with which it was associated. He is interested in institutions for scribal training, the link between incipient literacy and the recording of divination, the beginnings of textual transmission, the cognitive consequences of the transition to literacy, and linguistic reconstruction of the early stages of the Chinese language.

His publications include “The Chinese sexagenary cycle and the ritual foundations of the calendar” in Calendars and Years II : Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World, edited by John Steele, 1–37. Oxford: Oxbow (2011); “The evidence for scribal training at Anyang.” in Writing and Literacy in Early China, edited by Li Feng and David Branner, 173–205. Seattle: University of Washington Press (2011); and “Are writing systems intelligently designed?” in Agency in Ancient Writing, edited by Joshua Englehardt, 77–93. Boulder: University Press of Colorado (2013).

He received his PhD from Univeristy of California, Los Angeles in 2008.