Université de Strasbourg

Marie Bizais-Lillig

Biography - Marie Bizais-Lillig

Research Group on Oriental, Slavonic and Modern Greek Studies (GEO), University of Strasbourg, France

Marie Bizais-Lillig, USIAS Fellow 2021Marie Bizais-Lillig has been associate professor of Chinese studies in the Faculty of Languages and member of GEO at the University of Strasbourg since 2009. After studying literature and sinology, she specialised in the study of medieval Chinese poetry and poetics. Her doctoral dissertation (Inalco, 2008) analysed the classificatory model of textual space established by Liu Xie 劉勰 (c. 465-521) in the Wenxin diaolong 文心雕龍 [Spirit of Literature in Chiseled Dragons]. Later on, her research shifted to focus on intertextual phenomena in poetry, highlighting the lingering influence of the ancient anthology of the Shijing 詩經 [Classic of Poetry] in the field of poetic composition.

She has devoted several articles to analyzing these ancient poems, their reception over the centuries, the commentaries they have triggered, as well as the translations they have inspired. Ever since she received a Taiwan Fellowship in 2017 to carry out her research at the National Taiwan Library, Marie Bizais-Lillig has been investigating the anthology's status as a Confucian classic and its implications. During a 12-month delegation at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in 2019/2020, her exploration of commentaries of an encyclopedic nature – which gather all available information on elements of fauna, flora, objects, or constellations present in the Shijing – led her to form a working group on commentary practice in ancient China and Japan. This research also inspired her to develop a new approach to medieval texts, combining philological analysis and automated text mining, to reveal mechanisms of knowledge transmission – at the heart of her USIAS project.

Project - The role played by poetry in the economy of knowledge in medieval China

01/09/2021 - 31/08/2023

The project, abbreviated here to CHI-KNOW-PO, which Marie Bizais-Lillig will conduct during her Fellowship at USIAS, aims to demonstrate that the textual realm in medieval China (220-907) was continuous and that intertextuality was not specific to poetry. As a consequence, knowledge, along with its textual fragments, circulated through many different genres.

CHI-KNOW-PO has adopted a historical and integrative perspective in order to overcome the bias of a fragmented conception of texts produced by distinct modern disciplines. A conscious consideration is to give repositories of knowledge such as lexicons and encyclopaedias, which have been largely neglected and therefore remain marginal in sinological research, the same attention as valued textual heritage, given that these repositories played an essential role in education and erudition.

The project focuses on the theme of plants, which hold a central position in Chinese poetic grammar. The plan is to reconstruct the paths that textual fragments concerning plants travelled, within a body of texts composed of five parts: the Shijing [Classic of Poetry] that stood as a point of reference for all literati, successive commentaries on the Classic, elegant texts of the medieval period that refer to these same plants, the first dictionaries, lexicons and encyclopaedias, as well as technical works and treatises.

CHI-KNOW-PO will build a large textual digital database. Alongside established methodologies such as philology and textual analysis, the project will develop computational tools to verify how pieces of information circulated through all kinds of texts. By revealing and investigating networks of texts, which partially share common representations of plants, the project will demonstrate the role played by poetry in the economy of knowledge in medieval times.

More specifically, the project will evaluate the extent to which medieval poets borrowed expressions directly from original sources and show what inspiration these poets found in compiled sources. The project will also help qualify how different textual genres were vectors of knowledge and determine if poetry also constituted a repository of knowledge. Such a shift in perspective will challenge the line drawn between “documents” and “literary texts” and link together disconnected texts. It will thus paint a more accurate picture of literati activities in medieval China and reassess preconceptions related to the impact of specific texts, the process of composition and the definition of knowledge.

Investissements d'Avenir