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Lecture Review|Chen Yinque and Philology

On November 30, 2020, from 15:00 to 17:00, invited by the Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology of Nanjing Normal University, Professor Shen Weirong, the Ph.D. supervisor of the Chinese Department of Tsinghua University, gave a lecture on the topic of "Chen Yinque and Philology" in Lecture Hall 117, Building 600, Suiyuan Campus. This speech, the 32nd lecture of the archaeology lecture series of our university, also the first lecture of the Cultural and Historical Mystery Lecture Forum, was hosted by Associate Professor Liu Kewei. More than 50 teachers and students within and out of our university have attended which included Professor Zhang Xuefeng (School of History of Nanjing University), Professor Qi Haining, and associate Professor Xu Feng ( Department of Culture Heritage and Museology of Nanjing Normal University).  

At the beginning of the lecture, Prof. Shen explained the meaning of the topic. It was the 1990s since the boom in which the whole society talked about Chen Yinque, treating him as a myth emerged. As most people have recognized him from the book The Last Twenty Years of Chen Yinque written by Lu Jiandong, they hardly know what on earth Chen's research field covers. In this lecture, Prof. Shen adapted a philological approach to restudy Prof. Chen Yinque’s researches so as to compile his academic career and concentrate on his academic contributions from a philological perspective.

Firstly, Prof. Shen deconstructed Chen’s momentous accomplishments in two points of view, "a study of both ancient and modern, eastern and western" and "independent spirit and free thinking". Secondly, Chen’s knowledge-seeking experience was introduced. In 1919, Chen went to study Sanskrit and Pali under Professor Charles Rochwell Lanman (1850-1941) in the Department of Indic Philology at Harvard University. In 1921, he moved to Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin to study Oriental Philology under Professor Heinrich Lüders (1869-1943, Indian philologist). Chen’s academic and teaching experiences in China were subsequently mentioned. After his return to China, Chen served as a Sanskrit teacher of Tsinghua University. At last, the lecturer spoke highly of Chen’s contribution of "pioneering the study of various sub-disciplines of Western regions languages and literature in China." and praised him as the pioneer of modern Indian studies, Buddhist philology and literature, and Western region’s history and language studies, especially Tibetan studies, Mongolian studies, and Western Xia studies, as well as the founder of the development of Chinese humanities research. As an important role in process of the Chinese language and literature modernization, he succeeded in introducing to China the advanced methods and cutting-edge results of world studies of Sinology and Central Asian philology.

After the lecture, Prof. Liu Kewei made a summary in which he remarked that this  informative lecture could deepen our understanding of Chen Yinque’s study experience in America and Germany, and the academic exchange of and communication among contemporary sinology scholars.

Subsequently, Professor Zhang Xuefeng spoke highly of the lecture, for which had logically reviewed Chen Yinque's study experience and academic research during the first half of his life, and also discussed the research methods of philology in light of the research of Chen and other famous sinologists of the same period. Prof. Zhang believed that philology means the study of language and philology, the study of the interpretation of texts. Through his personal experience, Prof. Zhang considered that the study of Chinese history is more than the study of text materials in Chinese, but requires a broader historical research perspective.

Afterwards, Prof. Qi Haining also expressed his personal views on the important role of philological methods in historical research, saying that in order to study Chinese history well, we need to master more different languages and do cross-cultural research from a higher perspective. At the end of the lecture, Prof. Qi encouraged the students to learn more languages while they are young. Finally, Prof. Shen answered the students' questions in detail during the question-and-answer session, and the lecture came to an end with warm applause.

Article:Sang Cunxi

Picture:Sang Cunxi   Wang Zhenyu

Transilation:Zhang Yuchen