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Ari Daniel Levine

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Horace Montgomery Professor of History

I am a specialist in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern China, and teach a broad range of courses in Chinese, East Asian, and world history. My lecture courses are enriched with images from art and archaeology that demonstrate how even the smallest and most mundane things can have a potentially huge impact. In seminars, I especially enjoy using poems, short stories, memoirs, novels, and movies to build an imaginative connection to the distant and recent Chinese past. In all of my courses, I encourage my students to develop their historical thinking and writing skills, and to achieve mastery of the rules of evidence when analyzing primary sources and interpreting visual culture. 

My book Divided by a Common Language: Factional Conflict in Late Northern Song China was published by University of Hawaii Press in 2008. My co-edited volume Powerful Arguments: Standards of Validity in Late Imperial China, with Martin Hofmann and Joachim Kurtz of Heidelberg University, was published by Brill in 2020. Both books are explorations of how deep structures of language and rhetoric shaped ideas and institutions, and how unspoken assumptions determined what kinds of arguments would be most persuasive to specific audiences.

I am completing a second book on urban space and cultural memory in the Northern Song capital city of Kaifeng, and in the middle of a third on vision and visuality in Song China. In both of these projects, I have been investigating how eleventh- and twelfth-century writers recorded their memories of the material and visual worlds-- from cities to paintings to paintings of cities-- and how Chinese scholars imagined how the eye, mind, and memory worked.

I've also written two narrative chapters for Volume 5 of The Cambridge History of China, which sparked my interest in writing long-form narrative nonfiction, and am working on a chapter for the forthcoming Cambridge History of Confucianism. Recently, I have been publishing research in global medieval history, especially comparisons between Song China and the Byzantine Empire.

From 2017 to 2021, I served as the Editor of the Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, and I am currently the President of the Society for Song, Yuan, and Conquest Dynasties Studies. My research has been supported by external grants from the Fulbright Program, the American Council of Learned Societies, Heidelberg University, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

My family and I enjoy traveling and eating all over the world, and we have been fortunate to have spent time in China, Taiwan, Germany, Italy, California, and Maine.

Selected Publications:

“Imaginaries of Empire and Memories of Collapse: Parallel Narratives in Southern Song and Byzantine Memoirs of Conquered Capitals.” In Political Communication in Chinese and European History, 800–1600, edited by Hilde de Weerdt and Franz-Julius Morche, 523–569. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021. (link)

“Learning How to See Again: Describing Visuality and Imagining Vision in Eleventh-century Chinese Painters’ Biographies.” Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies 51.1 (March 2021): 85–158. (link)

With Martin Hofmann and Joachim Kurtz. Powerful Arguments: Standards of Validity in Late Imperial China. Sinica Leidensia 146. Leiden: Brill, 2020. (link)

“A Performance of Transparency: Discourses and Practices of Veracity and Verification in Li Tao’s Long Draft.” In Powerful Arguments: Standards of Validity in Late Imperial China, edited by Martin Hofmann, Joachim Kurtz, and Ari Daniel Levine, 90–134. Leiden: Brill, 2020.

“Jiyizhong de jianyi: Songdai biji suo fanying de Kaifeng Kaibao sita he Tianqing si ta” 記憶中的建築: 宋代筆記所反映的開封開寶寺塔和天清寺塔 [The Architecture of Memory: Reflections of Kaifeng’s Kaibao Monastery and Tianqing Monastery Pagodas in Song-dynasty Notebooks]. Xin Songxue 新宋學 8 (2019). 

“Court and Country: Discourses of Socio-Political Authority in Northern and Southern Song China.” The Medieval History Journal 19.2 (2016): 351393. (link)

“Walls and Gates, Windows and Mirrors: Urban Defenses, Cultural Memory, and Security Theater in Song Kaifeng.” East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine 39 (2014): 55–118. (link)

“Stages of Decline: Cultural Memory, Urban Nostalgia, and Political Indignation as Imaginaries of Resistance In Yue Ke's Pillar Histories.” The Medieval History Journal 17.2 (2014): 337–378. (link)

“Welcome to the Occupation: Collective Memory, Displaced Nostalgia, and Dislocated Knowledge in Song Ambassadors' Travel Records of Jin-Dynasty Kaifeng.” T'oung Pao 99.4-5 (2013): 379–444. (link)

“Siyuan de jixu: cong wenhua jiyu, shijue ganshou, ji wenben deng fangmian yantao TangSong Xiangguosi" 寺院的記叙: 從文化記憶、視覺感受、及文本等方面研討唐宋相國寺. In Kaifeng: Dushi xiangxiang yu wenhua jiyi 開封: 都市想像與文化記憶, ed. Chen Pingyuan. 98-129. Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2013. 

“Public Good and Partisan Gain: Languages of Faction in Late Imperial China and Eighteenth-Century England”. Journal of World History 23.4 (2012): 841–882. (link)

“The Reigns of Hui-tsung (1100-26) and Ch'in-tsung (1126-7) and the Fall of the Northern Sung.” In The Cambridge History Of China, Vol. 5, Part I: The Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors, 907–1279, edited by Denis C. Twitchett and Paul Smith. 556643. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. (link)

“Che-tsung's Reign (1085-1100) and The Age Of Faction.” In The Cambridge History Of China, Vol. 5, Part I: The Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors, 907–1279, edited by Denis C. Twitchett and Paul Smith. 484-555. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. (link)

Divided by a Common Language: Factional Conflict in Late Northern Song China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008. (link)

“Terms of Estrangement: Factional Discourse during the Early Huizong Reign.” In Emperor Huizong and Late Northern Song China: The Politics of Culture and the Culture of Politics, edited by Patricia Ebrey and Maggie Bickford, 131–170. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006.

“Faction Theory and the Political Imagination of the Northern Song.” Asia Major (Third Series) 18.2 (2005): 155–200. (link)


Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University, 2002

Of note:

Senior Scholarship in Chinese Studies, Fulbright-IIE, 2009

Fellowship for American Research in the Humanities in China, American Council of Learned Societies, 2010

Research Fellowship, Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe in a Global Context, Heidelberg University, 2011-2012

Conference Grant, ACLS Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society Program, for International Conference Standards of Validity in Late Imperial China, Heidelberg University, 2013

Research Fellowship, Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts, 2021

Workshop Grant (with Ya Zuo and Cong Ellen Zhang), Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Collaborative Reading-Workshop Program, for International Workshop Reading Biji: Randomness, Fluidity, Materiality, and Emotionality, 2021

Member, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, 2022-2023

Events featuring Ari Daniel Levine
101 LeConte Hall

This installment of the History Department's undergraduate lecture series is presented by Dr. Ari Levine. Professor Levine teaches courses in medieval and early modern Chinese history and premodern global history, and he is finishing a new book about urban space and cultural memory in the Northern Song capital of Kaifeng. Students of all majors and the university…

101 LeConte Hall

The Department of History’s undergraduate Lunchtime Time Machine series is back for spring, and our first episode features Dr. Ari Levine, Horace Montgomery Professor of History. Levine will do his best to answer the question - How Did Medieval Chinese Paintings Open Up Portals to Other Worlds? Join us to find his answer!

Levine is a specialist in the…

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