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Jue Guo

Assistant Professor
Barnard College, School of the Arts
East Asian Languages and Cultures Department
317 Milbank Hall

Jue Guo received her B.A. from Beijing University (2001), and her M.A. (2003) and Ph.D (2008) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I specialize in early China, especially from the Warring States period to Han times (5th century B.C.E.-2nd century C.E.). My research interests are primarily in ritual practices, material culture, and social, religious, and cultural history of early societies. Using both received history and archaeological sources, I am interested in looking at the intersection and interaction between writing and object, and studying topics including divination, death rituals, tombs and burials, and everyday life in early to medieval China from anthropological and historical perspectives, as well as the way they are theorized in comparative studies.

I am currently finishing my first book manuscript, titled A Life on Display: Reconstructing the Worlds of an Early Chinese Official, an attempt at providing a microhistorical and biographical account of an individual from Early China. I examine how this fourth-century B.C.E. high-ranking minister of the Warring States Kingdom of Chu, Shao Tuo, navigated and negotiated the social, political, personal, and religious realms of his lifeworlds, using the materials excavated from his intact tomb, known as the Baoshan Tomb 2 (dated to 316 B.C.E.) in combination with other archaeological sources and received literature.

A second book project under way utilizes divination manuals known as “daybooks”, legal code, and administrative documents from the Qin and Han periods obtained through archaeology. I hope to extract everyday life details from these recently excavated materials and reconstruct the lifeworlds of people, especially the lesser elite and commoners’ living realities and life experiences in the early empires.
Concurrently I am also working on two article-length studies of talismanic objects found in tombs from 5th century B.C.E. to 5th century C.E. China, and the concepts of and practices regarding the dead in ancient China.

Prior to joining Barnard, I taught as an Assistant Professor of Chinese Religions at Western Michigan University from 2008 to 2012 and was a visiting research fellow at the Cluster of Asia and Europe at Universität Heidelberg, Germany, from 2012 to 2013. At Barnard and Columbia, I teach undergraduate courses on Chinese civilization, major texts from East Asian traditions, and graduate courses on early China and excavated manuscripts.

Areas of Specialization and Research Interests 
Archaeologically Excavated Manuscripts and Objects in Early China
Religion, Society, and Material Culture in Early China
Funerary and Burial Rituals in Early and Medieval China
Microhistory and Object Biographies in Early China
Material Culture and Thing Theories
Theory and Method in Religious Studies
Cultural History, Cultural Archaeology, and Cultural Anthropology

ASCE V2359 Introduction to East Asian Civilizations: China
AHUM V3400 Colloquium on Major Texts: East Asia
EAAS W4202 The Dead and Their Lives After in Ancient China: Conceptions and Practices
HSEA G9844 Archaeology of Everyday Lifeworld in Early China

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