Chinese Writing and Lexicography in Medieval China


PhD students (all levels) with a background in Chinese studies, Chinese linguistics, Chinese manuscript culture, Chinese medieval texts and literature. A good knowledge of pre-modern Chinese is expected.

Organizing/Scientific Committee

Christoph Anderl (Prof. of Chinese Langauge and Culture, Ghent University), Blandijnberg 2, 5th floor, 9000 Gent -

Ann Heirman (Prof. of Chinese Language and Culture, Ghent University), Blandijnberg 2, 5th floor, 9000 Gent -


This Doctoral School will address key questions concerning medieval Chinese writing practices and manuscript culture, in addition to providing an introduction to important historical lexicographical material. As such, the course will address essential issues concerning the research of and work with medieval Chinese source materials.

The course is aimed at PhD students specializing in medieval China and medieval Chinese texts and manuscripts (focusing on the period between 5th and 10th century), as well as various aspects of Chinese writing. The course will enhance the PhD students’ understanding of the highly complex mechanisms concerning the production of Chinese handwritten manuscripts and the multifaceted use of Chinese characters. In addition to a general introduction to issues of Chinese writing (with a focus on Medieval Chinese), the discussion and reading of important source materials (e.g., Dunhuang manuscripts) will be one of the focal points of the lectures. Several aspects of medieval Chinese handwriting will receive special attention, such as phenomena of “standardization” and “variation”, the phonetic use of Chinese characters in manuscripts (phonetic loans / phonophoric elements), as well as historical material on the acquisition of writing / writing exercises among the Dunhuang findings. This will enable the students to gain a clearer understanding of medieval writing practices, help them in their critical approach to source materials, and concretely enhance their ability to decipher historical textual material. In the second part of the course, questions of lexicographical encoding, Chinese characters classification, and the organization of lexicographical material will be discussed. This part aims at helping the students to become familiar with the structure of these works, and enabling them to make use of this important type of source material. The course will also provide the opportunity for discussions with the PhD students and individual tutoring.


Several PhD students at the Department of Languages and Cultures, Gent University, are directly involved in the study of Chinese medieval manuscripts (e.g., texts from the large Dunhuang manuscript corpus), handwritten material, and historical lexicographical works. The DS aims to enhance the PhD researchers’ understanding of key questions pertaining to Chinese writing as reflected in Chinese medieval manuscripts, such as various writing and copying practices, aspects of manuscript culture, variant formation and classification of Chinese characters, aspects of standardization and variation, in addition to phonetic elements and phonetic loans in the Chinese writing system. The instructors will also introduce the PhD students to specific methodologies of research in Chinese writing, historical aspects of the development of writing, as well as aspects of codification and classification in historical lexicographical material.


Prof. Imre GALAMBOS - Cambridge University - Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies - University of Cambridge - Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA, UK

Imre Galambos is one of the world’s leading experts on the development of Chinese writing. Besides being an expert in Ancient Chinese writing, he has worked extensively on many aspects of the palaeography of medieval Dunhuang manuscripts, as well as manuscript culture. From 2002-2016 he was the Project Manager of the large International Dunhuang Project at the British Library, London, one of the world’s largest depositories comprising of 10.000s of Dunhuang manuscripts. Since recently, he has also been the President of the European Association for the Study of Chinese Manuscripts.

Supporting lecturers:

Dr. Christoph Anderl and Dr. Ann Heirman

Time Schedule and Venue

  • October 8 to October 12, 2018

Venue: het Pand, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Gent, room Jan Gillis

  • Monday, October 8th

09:30: Welcome of the participants by the Doctoral School organizers (Christoph Anderl, Ann Heirman)

* 10:00 – 12:00: General introduction to Chinese writing (Imre Galambos)

12:00 – 13:30: lunch break

13:30 – 15:00: Introduction: Aspects of writing practices in Dunhuang manuscripts (Imre Galambos)

15:15 – 16:45: Dunhuang manuscripts containing writing exercises / “schooling” manuscripts (Imre Galambos)

  • Tuesday, October 9th

10:00 – 12:00: Outside influences in Chinese writing (Imre Galambos)

12:00 – 13:30: lunch break

13:30 – 15:30: Segmentation and presentation of Chinese texts / text readings (Imre Galambos)

  • Wednesday, October 10th

10:00 – 13:00: Aspects of “standard and variation” (Imre Galambos)

13:00 – 14:00: lunch break

14:00 – 17:00 Discussion / meetings with students, Q+A / presentation of a selection of PhD projects on writing (Imre Galambos, Christoph Anderl)

  • Thursday, October 11th

* 10:00 – 12:00: Chinese medieval lexicography: An introduction / presentation of the Ghent Database of Medieval Chinese Texts (Christoph Anderl)

12:00 – 13:30: lunch break

13:30 – 15:30: The structure of the 10th century dictionary Longkan shoujing (Christoph Anderl)

  • Friday, October 12th

* 10:00 – 12:00: Reading of selected passages of the LKSJ (Christoph Anderl)

12:00 – 13:30: lunch break

13:30 – 15:00: Phonophoric elements in the classification system of LKSJ (Christoph Anderl)

15:15 – 17:00: Final discussions with students / short presentations of student projects (Christoph Anderl, Ann Heirman)

* Lectures also suitable for a more general audience (including PhD students of general linguistics, etc.)

Registration and information

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Registration fee

Free of charge for PhD students of the Doctoral School of Arts, Humanities and Law of Ghent University.


Maximum 20 participants


Reading list will be sent in advance to participants.

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

100% attendance; active participation (including text readings); presentation