Reading Confucius Beyond the Analects

January 04, 2018

One of the most studied texts in human history, the Analects of Confucius (551–479 BCE) is the gateway through which students in China and around the world first encounter the classical Chinese tradition. But how deserved is its canonical status? In this talk, Prof. Mick Hunter (Yale University) summarizes the findings from his recent monograph (Confucius Beyond the Analects) to argue that the Analects was first compiled under the Han dynasty (202 BCE–9 CE) as an instrument of imperial legitimacy. Moreover, de-canonizing the Analects allows us to shift our focus onto the wealth of non-canonical Confucius literature, and thus to understand Confucius's singular status in the early context.


Michael Hunter received his Ph.D. in 2012 from the East Asian Studies department at Princeton University, where he studied under Willard Peterson and Martin Kern. His first book, entitled Confucius Beyond the Analects (Leiden: Brill, 2017), is a comprehensive survey of the wealth of Confucius material from ancient China. In addition to charting the history of the Confucius figure, he argues that the Confucian Analects, traditionally the most authoritative source of Confucius’s teachings, was first compiled during the early part of the Han empire, roughly three centuries later than is usually supposed. Michael's current book project, tentatively entitled The Mastering of Early Chinese Thought, builds on the first book to argue for a thorough reevaluation of “master” figures and the formation of zhuzi 諸子 literature.


  • SFU David Lam Centre
  • Department of History

Thursday, January 4, 2018

11:00AM - 12:30PM

SFU Burnaby
Academic Quadrangle
AQ 6229
8888 University Drive

Please register here.