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Jeffrey Moser

Jeffrey Moser is the Gretta Chambers Assistant Professor of East Asian Art History at McGill University. His interests span the fields of Asian art history, and he uses his teaching as an opportunity to explore the relationships that the artistic traditions of Asia share with one another and with the rest of the world. His research deals primarily with the artistic and intellectual history of China during the Song era (tenth to thirteenth centuries AD), with a particular focus on the ways in which sensory engagement with material things transformed cognition and behavior. As a matter of both history and historiography, he is interested in how objects catalyze new uses of the past.

Moser is currently completing a manuscript entitled Nominal Things: Ritual, Bronzes, and the Hermeneutics of Form in Northern Song China. The book examines how the rediscovery and systematic cataloging of archaic bronzes during the eleventh century disrupted imperial authority over the interpretation of classical rites. By situating the epigraphic and formal studies of antiquities by Song era intellectuals within broader debates over the hermeneutics of the Confucian ritual classics, the study explains how the Northern Song objectification of antiquity fundamentally transformed a millennium of scholarly tradition. Moser is also engaged in two new research projects. The first examines the recently discovered family cemetery of the Neo-Confucian philosopher and antiquarian collector Lü Dalin (ca. 1040-1093). The second explores the role of taste and aesthetic judgment in the epochal transformations of East Asian ink painting that occurred between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. His work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, Henry Luce Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, among others.

Jeffrey Moser began his study of East Asian art as a translator and interpreter at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. He received his MA in art history from National Taiwan University and PhD in History of Art and Architecture and East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty at McGill, he was assistant professor of art history at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, where among other responsibilities he oversaw design for the university’s future Museum of Art and Archaeology.

Selected publications:

“Why Cauldrons Come First: Taxonomic Transparency in the Earliest Chinese Antiquarian Catalogs.” Journal of Art Historiography 11 (December, 2014): 1–23.

“The Ethics of Immutable Things: Interpreting Lü Dalin’s Illustrated Investigations of Antiquity.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 72.2 (2012): 259-293.

“Authority in Visual Exegesis.” Literature & Aesthetics 22.2 (December, 2012): 72-86.

"One Land of Many Places: The Integration of Local Culture in Southern Song Geographies." Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 42 (2012): 235-278.

Course offerings:

Professor Moser will be on leave during the 2014-15 academic year.