Graduate Student Seminar Series: The Song Dynasty Prison System
Student presenter: Zachary Hershey, East Asian Languages & Civilizations
Zachary Hershey is a second year PhD student who conducts research into the administrative history of pre-modern China from the 10th to 14th centuries. This relatively complex period of Chinese history begins with the divisive period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960 CE) which led into the diplomatically tense period from 960-1279 when the Chinese Song, Kitan Liao, Jurchen Jin, and Tangut Western Xia dynasties jockeyed for power in East Asia before struggling against and falling to the onslaught of the Mongol Empire. Not only does the unique diplomatic background of the time yield interesting complexities in administration and policy, but the rise in the volume of administrative sources available from the period allow for meaningful analysis of administrative structure and policy development that becomes exceedingly difficult or impossible in earlier periods. Zachary's research into the management and maintenance of the Song Dynasty prison system provides access to administrative documents previously unavailable in English and highlights the problems involved in developing effective policy in a vast pre-modern empire.