About our staff
Dr Curie Virág
Senior Research Fellow and Co-Project Director
Since August 2017, I have been dividing my time between Edinburgh, Toronto and Budapest. In Toronto I teach in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto, while in Budapest I have been visiting faculty in the departments of Philosophy and Medieval Studies at Central European University. I was born in South Korea and raised in northern California, and received my first degree at the University of California, Berkeley, with a double major in medieval/early modern European history and English literature. A Fulbright scholarship to Korea and a comparative interest led me eventually to the study of East Asian and Chinese thought at Harvard, where I received my MA and PhD degrees.
At Edinburgh I will be focusing on my research as Senior Research Fellow and Co-Project Director of the collaborative ERC-funded Byzantium-China project (with Professor Niels Gaul as PI), 'Classicizing learning in Medieval imperial systems: Cross-cultural approaches to Byzantine "Paideia" and Tang/Song Xue 學” (PAIXUE) (2017-2022).
Assistant Professor (East Asian Studies), University of Toronto: http://www.eas.utoronto.ca/people/faculty-members/curie-virag/
Visiting Faculty (Philosophy and Medieval Studies) at Central European University, Budapest: https://philosophy.ceu.edu/people/curie-virag
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Ancient Civilisations
- Comparative & Global History
- Medieval & Renaissance
I work work in the fields of premodern Chinese philosophy, religion and intellectual history (Warring States to 12th century), with a focus on early and middle period Chinese ethics, moral psychology, and conceptions and practices of the self. Much of my work has been dedicated to the problem of emotions in traditional China – how they were conceived phenomenally, what they meant for human cognition, and what role they played in the development of ethical norms and cultural practice. I am also interested in understanding how early conceptions of the self and the human being are intertwined with ideas about the workings of the natural world, and the ways in which this convergence shapes moral life.
Current research activities
I am currently at work on two book projects: 1) a genealogy of emotions in medieval China (to c. 1200); and 2) a study of paradigms of cognition in traditional China. I am also exploring early and medieval conceptions of humanness, from both the cosmological and ethical perspectives. This latter project is being studied through a number of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural collaborations that have been funded through a Humanities Initiative grant at Central European University (CEU) called ”Envisioning the Human in Early and Medieval China.” It is also connected to a Summer University course that she organized and directed, called “What Makes Us Human? Philosophical and Religious Perspectives in China and the West” (2016), and to a two-year lecture series, funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo foundation, called “The Human and the Sciences of Nature: Chinese and Comparative Perspectives.” (2016-2018).
These projects both inform, and form the comparative basis of, a five-year ERC project that I will be running together with Professor Niels Gaul (PI), called “Classicizing Learning in Medieval Imperial Systems: Cross-cultural Approaches to Byzantine Paideia and Tang/Song Xue 學” (PAIXUE) (2017-2022).
'Classicizing learning in Medieval imperial systems: Cross-cultural approaches to Byzantine "Paideia" and Tang/Song Xue 學” (PAIXUE). (2017-2022). https://www.ed.ac.uk/history-classics-archaeology/news-events/news/2-million-euro-erc-grant
'Envisioning the human in Early and Medieval China' https://www.ceu.edu/project/envisioning-human-early-and-medieval-china-comparative-continuation-human-project-ceu
Books - Authored
Virág, C. (2017) The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy: Emotions of the Past. New York: Oxford University PressDOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190498818.001.0001
Virag, C. (2016) The intelligence of emotions? Debates over the structure of moral life in Early China. L'Atelier du centre de recherche historique, pp. 83-109
Virag, C. (2007) Emotions and human agency in the thought of Zhu Xi. Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, 37, pp. 49-88
Virag, C. (2019) Moral psychology and cultivating the self. In: Ivanhoe, P. (ed.) Zhu Xi: Selected Writings. Oxford University Press, pp. 35-55DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190861254.003.0003
Virág, C. (2015) Self-cultivation as praxis in Song neo-confucianism. In: Marsone, P. and Lagerwey, J. (eds.) Modern Chinese Religion I: Song-Liao-Jin-Yuan (960-1368 AD). Brill, pp. 1187-1232DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004271647-020
Virág, C. (2014) Early confucian perspectives on emotions. In: Shen, V. (ed.) Dao Companion to Classical Confucian Philosophy. Springer Netherlands, pp. 203-225DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2936-2_9