Joachim Gentz


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I supervise topics in the field of the history of Chinese thought

Personal profile


Prof. Dr. Joachim Gentz, born 18.10.65, studied Sinology, Religious Studies and Philosophy at the FU Berlin, continued his studies as DAAD scholarship holder at Nanjing University from 1988–1990. After his MA thesis 1995 on "The Chunqiu exegesis of the first 17 chapters of the Chunqiu fanlu" he wrote his PhD as a member of the Graduate College "Religion and Normativity" on "The Chunqiu exegesis of the Gongyang zhuan from its beginnings to Dong Zhongshu" for which he received the "Ruprecht-Karls-Award" of Heidelberg University. During the time of dissertation writing he carried out research for two months in Beijing (1996) and for two months with a Monbusho scholarship at the Institute of Oriental Culture at Tokyo University (1997) and he taught as Guest Lecturer at the Institute for the History of China at the Ruhr University Bochum (1998). After his dissertation he worked for three years (1999-2002) as Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chinese Studies in Heidelberg and was invited as Visiting Professor to the Institute of Oriental Culture at Tokyo University (2000). In the following four years (2002-2006) he worked as Juniorprofessor at the Dpt. of the Study of Religion, University of Göttingen. From 2006-2008 he joined an Asia Link project at the Cultural Studies programme at Edinburgh University as research fellow in co-operation with German and Chinese universities. In January 2008 he was invited as William James Visiting Professor by the University of Bayreuth to teach “Chinese Religions and Politics”. From 2009-2014 he was Reader in Chinese, Head of Chinese Studies and Research Officer of Asian Studies. Since 2014 he is Chair of Chinese Philosophy and Religion, since Aug 2015 he is Head of Asian Studies. His main fields of interest and research are Zhou and Early Han history and philosophy, text and commentary, Chinese religions, Chinese literary composition, Chinese histories of thought, theories of Cultural and Religious Studies especially theories on ritual, divination, sacred space and body conceptions.


I started teaching UG and PG seminars in 1997 at the Universities of Bochum and Heidelberg in the field of pre-modern and modern sinology such as:

  • Historical Confucian texts: Text and Commentaries of the Spring and Autumn Annals (Chunqiu)
  • Lecture course on the Confucian Four Canonical Books (si shu) with the orthodox interpretation of Zhu Xi (1130–1200)
  • Lecture course on early 20th century Chinese philosophical language: literature on the Confucian Four Canonical Books (si shu) by Qian Mu, Tang Junyi, and Feng Youlan
  • Introduction into Chinese Mythology and its early 20th century nationalistic reconstruction by Gu Jiegang, Mao Dun, Wen Yiduo, and Yuan Ke
  • Text and Authority: introduction into the Confucian Thirteen Classics (shisan jing)
  • Cultural history of the Ming dynasty
  • Lecture course on Ming dynasty biographies of Confucian scholars. Different constructions of Confucian Genealogies in Zhou Rudeng’s Shengxue zongzhuan, Sun Qifeng’s Lixue zongzhuan and Huang Zongxi’s Mingru xuean in comparison.
  • Introductory course China (Landeskunde)
  • Lecture course of Qing dynasty bureaucratic documents
  • Ming dynasty „syncretism“
  • Lecture course on Ming dynasty „syncretism“

From 2002-2006 onwards I taught in the Dpt of Religious Studies at Goettingen University where I set up and restructured the entire Religious Study programme together with my colleague A. Gruenschloss. We have created a new profile for Religious Studies and a network of interdisciplinary cooperations. I also started to do PhD and MA supervision. UG and PG courses that I taught included:

  • Course of lectures: Introduction into Chinese religions
  • Lecture course Buddhist texts: Zong Mi’s (780–841) Yuanren lun
  • Colloquium with MA and PhD candidates (together with Prof. A. Gruenschloss)
  • Introduction into the history of religions 1 (Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
  • Introduction into the history of religions 2
  • What is religion?
  • Religion and space, including study trips and field work (together with PD Beinhauer-Koehler [Religious Studies/Islamic Studies])
  • Theories of Cultural Studies (together with JProf. Grage [Scandinavian Studies] and JProf. Moers [Egyptology] )
  • Daoist Texts
  • Course of lectures: Introduction into East Asian Buddhism
  • Religion and time: divination in China and Europe (together with Dr. Anselm Schubert [Church History])
  • Introduction into the history and theories of Religious Studies
  • Introduction into the terminology of Religious Studies
  • Introduction into Mahayana texts
  • Living Religions in and around Goettingen, including study trips and field work (together with Prof. A. Gruenschloss)
  • Religion and body

From 2006 I have taught full UG and PG courses and contributed to courses at the University of Edinburgh in Chinese Studies, Cultural Studies and Religious Studies and have conducted dissertation and PhD supervision in cooperation with the disciplines Cultural Studies, Islamic Studies, Religious Studies, Theology, Comparative Literature, History of Art, and Architecture. Taught courses included:

  • Course: Chinese Pre-Modern History and Thought (Chinese Studies)
  • Lectures in: Pre-Modern East Asian Civilization (Chinese Studies)
  • Contribution to: Introduction to Cultural Studies (Cultural Studies)
  • Course: Text and Context (Visual and Cultural Studies)
  • Course: Chinese Religions (Religious Studies)
  • Course: Introduction to Classical Chinese (Chinese Studies)
  • Course: Keywords in Modern Chinese Cultural Studies (Chinese Studies)
  • Lecture series: „Religion and Politics in China“ (William-James Visiting Professor at the Institute of Religious Studies, University of Bayreuth), 6 lectures and 5 seminars
  • Course: Research Skills/Colloquium (Chinese Studies)
  • Contribution to: Introduction to Chinese Society and Culture (Chinese Studies)
  • Contribution to: Modern History and Thought (Chinese Studies)

I have created e-learning courses and digital teaching materials and methods in Cultural Studies. In Chinese Studies, due to my expertise in the subject, I have been principal supervisor of the creation of the first LLC UG studies distance learning course “The First Emperor”, fully funded by the PELF.

Together with my former PhD student Dr Dirk Meyer (Oxford) I have designed and received AHRC funding (£60.000) for a workshop series of five workshops which provided additional teaching in Old Chinese for our PG students between 2009 and 2011. This series has helped to create a network between colleagues working in the field of Old Chinese in the UK. This has already proven to be of great help in receiving support at getting access to and sharing research resources and tools. 

I have cooperated with colleagues from Chinese universities to create my course on Keywords in Chinese Studies to teach the course in accord with the discussions held in China and to find a more appropriate way of teaching Western theory to Chinese students. I have set up a programme of students exchange with two Chinese universities through the international office of Edinburgh University, and the first exchange PhD student has arrived in Edinburgh.

I have developed and published teaching material for European and Chinese universities in the form of a book (Keywords Re-Oriented, Goettingen University Press, 2009) which reflects on inter- and transcultural aspects of learning.

I have published another book which provides an introduction to Chinese religions for students (Understanding Chinese Religions, Dunedin Academic Press 2013).

On the basis of my student’s homework, I am preparing a publication on innovative teaching methodology via diagrammatic representations of texts in Classical Chinese.

Education/Academic qualification

Classical Sinology, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), The Chunqiu exegesis of the Gongyang zhuan from its beginnings to Dong Zhongshu, University of Heidelberg

Oct 1995Sept 1998

Award Date: 15 Jan 1999

Sinology, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Master of Philosophy (MPhil), The Chunqiu exegesis of the first 17 chapters of the Chunqiu fanlu, Universität Heidelberg

Mar 1991Sept 1995

Award Date: 15 Sept 1995


  • B Philosophy (General)
  • Chinese Philosophy
  • BL Religion
  • Chinese Religion
  • BQ Buddhism
  • CC Archaeology
  • Chinese Archaeology
  • DS Asia
  • PI Oriental languages and literatures
  • Pre-Modern Chinese


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