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Dr Dirk Meyer

Fellow in Chinese

Associate Professor of Chinese Philosophy


I am Associate Professor in Chinese Philosophy and Fellow and Moral Tutor at Queen’s with responsibility for undergraduate and postgraduate students in Oriental Studies. My research and teaching interests lie broadly in Early Chinese History of Thought. For my undergraduate years, I read Chinese Literature and Philology (zhongwen xi) at National Taiwan University, Taipei. In 2000, I moved to Heidelberg, Germany, to continue my studies in Sinology and Philosophy. I then went to Leiden University, The Netherlands, to read for my Master’s, followed by the PhD at the Leiden Graduate School CNWS (Centre for Non-Western Studies). I came to Oxford in 2007 and since then I have been a Fellow at Queen’s. During my time at Oxford, I have been a visiting scholar at Princeton University; Renmin University, Beijing; National Taiwan University. In the academic year 2014–2015, I was the Bernhard Karlgren Fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. Together with colleagues from Ancient History, Classics, Egyptology, and Medieval Studies, I founded and convene an interdisciplinary working group at Queen’s, The Workshop for Manuscript and Text Cultures (WMTC), which meets at least once every term (Wednesday of 5th week at 17:00 in the Magrath Room). The aim of the workshop is to examine material aspects of writing and text production, as well as transmission and the interface between the oral and the written, across pre-modern literate societies. Please contact me, if you are interested in getting involved: or


I teach a broad range of courses relating to Early Chinese philosophy, culture, and society, especially to third and fourth year undergraduates, as well as tutorials on Chinese civilisation to all years. Seminars include classes on core philosophical texts such as Zhuangzi, Mengzi, Xunzi, but also special subject classes about topics such as Early Chinese manuscripts and textuality, or forms of argument in Early Chinese philosophy. I typically supervise undergraduate dissertations that focus on Chinese philosophy or matters relating to pre-Imperial (i.e. anything before the second century BC) society and culture. I also teach special subject readings in Early Chinese Textuality to graduate students. I normally supervise up to six PhD students.


My research interests include the history of thought; the interplay of material conditions and ideas; orality and literacy in early Chinese philosophical discourse; excavated manuscripts from early China; early Chinese textuality; transition periods in Philosophy; argumentative strategies in early Chinese Philosophy. These are also the broad areas in which I accept graduate student projects. My own current projects include a series of three monographs dedicated to the most ancient and understudied of the Chinese Classics, the Shangshu (The Classic of Documents). This project focuses on Manuscript Cultures during the Warring States period (c. 453–222 BC) in the first monograph, ‘The Materiality of “Shu” Traditions’. The second monograph will focus on processes of canonisation during the early empires (c. 221 BC–AD 220) and the third monograph will explore the hermeneutical strategies of Imperial scholars up to the Song Dynasty (960–1279). A further long-term project of mine is A History of Written Thinking in China, which will address trends in Chinese written philosophical discourse. Moreover, I am currently launching The Journal of Manuscript and Text Cultures (JMTC), as well as preparing an interdisciplinary project on Literary Forms of Argument in Manuscript Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Perspective.



  • Philosophy on Bamboo: Text and the Production of Meaning in Early China. HCT 2. Leiden: Brill, 2012 (pp. x + 396). This book analyses excavated philosophical texts from the Warring States period. It treats texts as objects in their own right and discusses the relationship between the material conditions of text and manuscript culture, writing, techniques of meaning construction and philosophy in the Warring States period (ca. 453–222).
  • Literary Forms of Argument in Early China. SinL. 123. Leiden: Brill, 2015. Co-edit with Joachim Gentz (Edinburgh). This book addresses literary patterns in pre-modern Chinese texts and their philosophical functions. By drawing attention to the philosophical relevance of form and thought in early Chinese writings, it examines the formal characteristics of written argument in pre-modern Chinese philosophy.


Forthcoming books:

  • 竹上之思:早期中國的文本與意義生成. Shanghai: Shanghai guji.
  • Origins of Chinese Political Thought: Studies in the Classic of Documents. HCT. (Leiden: Brill) Co-edited with Martin Kern (Princeton).
  • The Materiality of “Shu” (Documents) Traditions and the Monumentalisation of the Past in Early China.
  • Reading Early Chinese Manuscripts: Texts, Contexts, Methods. HdO. (Leiden: Brill). Martin Kern (Princeton), Wolfgang Behr (Zurich), and I co-edit this long overdue handbook. The handbook is conceived as a programmatic statement on how to approach the study of early Chinese manuscripts, as well as a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the tools and methods necessary for such study.

Forthcoming articles:

  • “Recontextualization and Memory Production: Debates on Rulership as Reconstructed from “Gu ming” 顧命 (Testimonial Charge)”. In The Classic of Documents (eds. Martin Kern and Dirk Meyer). Leiden: Brill.
  • “Text, Philosophy, and the Rise of a Manuscript Culture in Early China.” In Reading Early Chinese Manuscripts: Texts, Contexts, Methods (eds. Wolfgang Behr, Martin Kern, Dirk Meyer). HdO. Leiden: Brill.