Luke Habberstad specializes in the literature and religion of early China (5th century BCE-3rd century CE). He is particularly interested in the myriad changes in literary production, religious practice, and material culture that occurred under the Qin and Han dynasties. In addition, his research explores the connections between administrative, literary, and religious writing in the early Chinese context. His book project, tentatively entitled “Courtly Cultures and Politics of the Early Chinese Empires,” examines changing institutional and normative models of the imperial court (in Chinese, chao 朝). Drawing upon literary, administrative, and excavated written and material evidence, the study explores the development of shared notions of the court as a spatial, ritual, and political body. Moving away from a common emphasis on the court as the embodiment of imperial control, the book argues that the court was just as much a product of courtier writings and political struggles as it was a tool for the exertion of centralized political power.
Professor Habberstad is also completing a translation and study of a cycle of poems on early court offices, the so-called “Admonitions of the Many Offices” (Bai guan zhen). His next book length project will be a study of water control and political culture in early China. His publications include “Text Performance, and Spectacle: The Funeral Procession of Marquis Yi of Zeng, 433 BCE” (Early China 37, 2014); “Recasting the Court in Late Western Han: Rank, Duty, and Alliances During Institutional Change (in Chang’an 26 BC, edited by Michael Nylan and Griet Vankeerberghen, University of Washington Press, 2014); “A Summary of Textual Studies on the Record of Rites (Liji 禮記)”, second author with Liu Yucai (Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, 1.1-2, 2014); and “The Sage and His Associates: Confucius and His Disciples Across Early Texts” (in The Norton Critical Edition of The Analects, trans. by Simon Leys and edited by Michael Nylan, W.W. Norton, 2014).