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Ethan Harkness

Assistant Professor
(212) 998-7267
411 Laf, Room 368

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Ethan Harkness teaches and writes about early Chinese culture with an emphasis on technical topics that inform the histories of science and religion. In his methodological approach to research, he also makes extensive use of excavated manuscripts to supplement historical perspectives derived from the transmitted textual tradition. His doctoral dissertation, entitled “Cosmology and the Quotidian: Day Books in Early China,” analyzes a type of almanac that circulated widely in the Chinese cultural sphere between the late fourth century and the late first century BC. For over ten years, Professor Harkness lived in Taiwan where, in addition to academic research, he actively pursued a number of interests, including bicycle touring and the Chinese strategy game of weiqi.

Teaching and Research Interests

early Chinese cultural history and technical traditions (e.g. agriculture, medicine, calendrical science, divination, and structured play and games); history of science; pre-Buddhist history of religion; Chinese paleography and excavated manuscripts

Ethan Harkness


B.A., Harvard University, 1992
B.S., National Taiwan University, 1997
M.S., Brandeis University, 2000
Ph.D. East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago, 2011


2017 Spring

Omens and Oracles: Reading the Future and Retaining the Past in Early China

2017 Fall

Competing Images of the Sage: Confucius and Lao Tzu

2016 Spring

Competing Images of the Sage: Confucius and Lao Tzu

2016 Fall

Competing Images of the Sage: Confucius and Lao Tzu

2015 Fall

First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Play and Games in Early China