Newell Ann Van Auken

Visiting Assistant Professor in Chinese
629 PH

Courses: Classical Chinese (039:108:001; 039:109:001)

Academic Background:
Ph.D., University of Washington (Seattle), Asian Languages and Literature
M.A., University of Washington (Seattle), Asian Languages and Literature
B.A., University of Virginia, History and East Asian Studies

Research interests:
My research aims to arrive at a better understanding of how texts and objects from early China reflected the culture, thinking, and practices of antiquity, and how these materials later came to be understood. While many early texts have been transmitted largely intact, they have at the same time been continually re-interpreted and adapted to suit the needs and lives of later generations. I am particularly interested in the formation of the Confucian canon, as well as its subsequent reception and transformation, and in exploring the gap between the very early functions and meanings of texts, and the ways in which those texts came to be construed and employed in other times.

My other research interests include Classical Chinese literature and textual studies; Chinese linguistics; the early Chinese writing system, and world writing systems.

Current projects:
My current projects concern the Spring and Autumn (Chūnqiū 春秋), perhaps one of the most neglected works in the traditional Confucian canon. I am preparing a book manuscript that examines a group of very early commentarial remarks on the Spring and Autumn, those remarks that appear in the Zuǒ zhuàn 左傳. I am also working on a second project that focuses on the Spring and Autumn itself, and examines the possibility that its records may have been linked to ritual practices in pre-Confucian China.

Select Publications:

2012. Van Auken, Newell Ann. Who is a rén 人? The Use of rén in Spring and Autumn Records and Its Interpretation in the Zuǒ, Gōngyáng, and Gǔliáng Commentaries. Journal of the American Oriental Society 131.4 (Oct-Dec 2011):555-590. 

2010 Could “subtle words” have conveyed “praise and blame”? The implications of formal regularity and variation in Spring and Autumn (Chūn qiū) records. Early China 31 (2007), 47-111.

2004 The modal negative wu in Classical Chinese. In Meaning and form: essays in pre-modern Chinese grammar and semantics 意義與形式 – 古代漢語語法 論文集, edited by Takashima Ken’ichi 高嶋謙一 and Jiang Shaoyu 蔣紹愚. München: Lincom Europe, 91-210.

2002 The etymonic determinatives of wanq (望, 朢). Journal of the American Oriental Society, 122.3 (Sept. 2002), 520-533. Stable url: