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Symposium — New Perspectives on Chinese Writing

Pseudo-writing on Delftware, naive scribbles by young monks, the “withdrawn withdrawal” of the character script, calligraphy on the pavement: on Monday, 20 May 2019, Leiden University offers a fascinating panorama on the Chinese writing system. The program features new research by international experts on a script representing both unequaled continuity and impressive adaptability. During the symposium, treasures from the Chinese Special Collections of the Asian Library will be presented in dedicated exhibitions.

Chinese script in Leiden

With the growing status of China in the world, the Chinese script is entering our daily lives: not just in Asian stores and restaurants, but also in our clothing labels, route descriptions and instruction manuals. The advancement of knowledge about this script is a time-honored tradition at Leiden, where specialized collections bear witness to a rich variety of its manifestations. On 20 May, we celebrate this diversity in the form of new and groundbreaking research on the basis of unique materials.

Dr. Galambos will conduct a live online analysis of Chinese book forms.


Dr. Imre Galambos (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge University) is a world-class authority on Chinese manuscripts. His primary field of research is medieval Chinese manuscript culture, with a focus on material from Dunhuang and Khara-khoto. Apart from his keynote lecture on recent research findings, Dr. Galambos will present rare manuscripts and book forms from the collections of the Leiden University Libraries.



Monday, 20 May 2019, Vossius Room, Witte Singel 27, Leiden





10:30 Imre Galambos University of Cambridge "Handwriting competence in Dunhuang manuscripts"
11:15 Suzanne Burdorf Ghent University "The sense of sound: A medieval perspective on phonetic elements in the script"
12:00 Lunch break   No lunch provided by the program
13:00 Willemijn van Noord

University of Amsterdam & National Museum of World Cultures

"Between script and ornament: Delftware decorated with
pseudo-Chinese characters, 1680-1720"
13:45 Fresco Sam-Sin Leiden University "Brailliant pedagogies: Sinitic braille and its value to the CFL classroom"
14:30 Tea & coffee   Pop-up exhibition #1, Heinsius Room – Tea & coffee allowed outside the Heinsius room
14:45 Jeroen Wiedenhof Leiden University "A new China, a new script?"

Laura Vermeeren

University of Amsterdam "Remediations of the sinograph in contemporary China"
16:15 Imre Galambos University of Cambridge "Chinese book forms in the Leiden University Library"
17:00 Drinks   Pop-up exhibition #2 Heinsius Room – Drinks allowed outside the Heinsius room

Sign up

Entrance is free, but seats are limited. Please register by clicking the button below, send an email to aanmelding@library.leidenuniv.nl (Specifying the event and your name) or call +31 (0)71-527 2832.

Sign up now!


New Perspectives on Chinese Writing (NPCW) aims to bring together expert accounts of new data, original results in script research, and hands-on presentations of materials from special library collections. NPCW is an initiative by Jeroen Wiedenhof, who has joint appointments at the institutes for area studies and for linguistics (LIAS, LUCL) at Leiden University. The program for this event has been developed in close cooperation with Marc Gilbert, subject librarian for Chinese studies and curator of Chinese special collections at Leiden University Libraries.

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