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Wiebke Denecke

General Editor, Hsu-Tang Library of Classical Chinese Literature

Fellow, Society of Fellows, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2004–2006)

Wiebke Denecke studied Medicine, Sinology, Japanology, and Greco-Roman philosophy in her native Germany, in Hungary, Norway, Taipei, and Tokyo and received her BA and MA from the University of Göttingen and her PhD from Harvard University. Her research encompasses the classical literatures of China and Japan, comparative studies of the ancient world, and more broadly world literature. She is interested in fundamental questions involving: comparisons of early thought traditions, philosophy, persuasion, and rhetoric; poetry and poetics; court cultures; the development of literary traditions in multiliterate environments; literature and cross-cultural encounters; and the creative recapturing of ancient East Asian traditions in the global present.

Her book The Dynamics of Masters Literature: Early Chinese Thought from Confucius to Han Feizi (Harvard University Press, Asia Center, 2011) argues that the desire for a Chinese equivalent for Western philosophy has warped our understanding of early Chinese thought and shows how texts like the Confucian Analects or the Laozi can be read as part of a distinctive Chinese genre of “Masters Literature.” Her second book Classical World Literatures: Sino-Japanese and Greco-Roman Comparisons (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014) examines the development of younger literatures vis-à-vis older authoritative “reference cultures” by comparing how early Japanese authors wrote their texts through and against Chinese literary precedents to how Latin authors appropriated Greek literary precedents. In a corpus of articles she has explored the reception of Chinese texts in early Japanese literary culture and has pursued comparisons of Japanese vernacular literature with the Chinese-style literature produced by Japanese authors. Denecke is an editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature and Norton Anthology of Western Literature. With Kôno Kimiko she published The Concept of “Letters” and “Literature” in Japan (Nihon ni okeru bun to bungaku) (Tokyo: Benseisha, 2013) (in Japanese). With Zhang Longxi she is editing the book series East Asian Comparative Literature and Culture (Leiden:Brill) and with Sunil Sharma she is leading the BU Comparative Studies of the Premodern World Initiative.

Denecke has received grants from the Mellon Foundation, ACLS, German Merit Scholarship Foundation, DAAD, and Japan Foundation. Before coming to BU she taught at Barnard College/Columbia University, and was a member of the Society of Fellows at Columbia University and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.