9/3/20 Tiger Talk: What's in a name? The origin of place names (地名) in ancient China and their role

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Presented by James Hargett, Professor of Chinese Studies, Department of East Asian Studies, State University of New York at Albany Moderated by Cynthia Chennault, Emerita, Chinese Literature, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Florida

Jim will share findings from his recent research on the origin of place names (diming 地名) in China in the period before Qin unification in 221 BCE. Since all China scholars, especially those who work in the imperial era (Qin Dynasty and thereafter through to the Qing Dynasty), on some level work with place names, this topic should interest many academics, as well as curious lay people. The presentation will address place names in terms of two questions:

  • How were place-names first formulated during the Shang and Zhou periods?

  • What is the role or function of place names in subsequent Chinese history?

Jim will offer some new ideas about the function of place names in imperial China.

Cynthia Chennault was one of Mrs. Lin's earliest students at Wellesley College. After graduating from Wellesley, she earned a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Stanford University. Her scholarly research has focused on Chinese lyrical poetry and social history during the Six Dynasties and early Tang periods.


Jim and Cynthia share a unique connection through their fathers. Cynthia's father is the legendary aviator Claire Lee Chennault, World War II leader of the Flying Tigers. Jim's father worked in Chengdu on the crew that maintained the tarmac (regularly destroyed by Japanese bombers) for the Flying Tigers.


Registration is by email invitation only, and limited to members of our Tiger Community including Helen Lin's students, colleagues, family, and their invited guests.


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