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Prof. CHAN Timothy Wai Keung

B.A. (Ji’nan University, Guangzhou, PRC), M.A. (Peking University),, PhD (University of Colorado, Boulder)

Programme Director of Master of Arts in Chinese Literature, Language and Culture; Professor, Department of Chinese Language and Literature


  • GRF


  • The project examines Li Bai’s 李白 (701–62) poems from the perspectives of mythology and religious Daoism. Blurring the lines of disciplines, the project aims to offer new readings of Li’s works, selected for investigation by analyzing them in the light of Daoist meditative practice, the new trends in Shangqing 上清 Daoism (aka Maoshan 茅山 School) in the Tang, and the mythological elements with their cultural significance. It will adopt philological and cultural perspectives by identifying and analyzing these new elements, which illustrate the novelty and creativity of this new poetic aesthetics.
    Li Bai played a double role, as a poet and a Daoist practitioner, in the culture of the Tang dynasty (618–907). However, most existing scholarship treats Li as a poet and seldom considers the Daoist backgrounds of his poetry and, even if so, they are discussed in a superficial manner. The proposed project will focus on a selection of Li’s poems and analyze them with reference Shangqing Daoist scriptures, as well as some official and unofficial histories, and aim to reconstruct a more reliable picture of the poet as depicted in these poems. 


  • The project studies a selection of Li Bai’s poems from the perspectives of mythology and religious Daoism. It is intended to open up a new page in the scholarship of Li Bai, one of the greatest poets in Chinese poetic history, by means of new perspectives, interdisciplinary approach, and innovative methods. These aspects would result in new discoveries in Li Bai scholarship, Tang poetic history, and culture.


  • The project involves:
    •    Incorporation of Daoist meditation techniques in the discussion of Li’s poetic representation in his poetry on “roaming into transcendence.”
    •    Investigation of Li’s poetry in light of his Daoist backgrounds, especially his associations with Daoist figures such as Sima Chengzhen and Wu Yun, as well as the relevant political and intellectual backgrounds of the time.
    •    Examination of how Li adopted the Yuefu (Music Bureau) poetic tradition in his creation of an idiosyncratic style.

Interdisciplinary expertise

  • Intellectual history;
    Religious studies;
    Comparative literature.