Early Text Cultures

Early Text Cultures is a multi-disciplinary project created for discussion of common and similar text types across ancient and pre-modern text cultures. The project is intended to help students of different regions of the pre-modern world to meet and exchange ideas without being confined to the conventional discourses of particular disciplines.

While there are numerous striking similarities between individual early and pre-modern text cultures, many of these similarities have been understudied. In particular, the important regions of East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia often fall beyond the scope of scholarly enquiry and are often regarded as exotic and mysterious exceptions. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that similar patterns of development can be traced across different cultures. These patterns define the role of texts in societies, the composition of their audience, the repertoire of text types, and the paths towards the development of creative literature.

The project will initially concentrate on specific examples of text types that are common or similar across a range of cultures. During each of the project meetings, a particular text type will be presented by at least two speakers from different disciplines. We will attempt to select text samples that are insightful as objects of cross-cultural study and comparison and not only interested for specialists in a particular field. We are maintaining a regularly updated list of proposed projects with descriptions and sample texts, and anyone is welcome to suggest a new text type for discussion.

The project is initiated by graduate students from Oxford University, but it is open to anyone who is interested in inter-disciplinary discussion of early text types.