Rudolf Wagner as Historian

  • Marianne Bastid-Bruguière (Author)


Rudolf Wagner’s historical writings form a significant and innovative part of his unusually diverse publication history. This article divides Wagner’s historical research into four distinct stages. In the first stage, 1967–1979, Wagner’s research was inspired by the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer. He proposed new readings of ancient Chinese texts and their commentaries, aiming to clarify traditional forms of Chinese classical interpretation. The second stage began in 1979 and applied new analytical concepts and a transcultural approach to literary and textual studies of modern China. After Wagner became a professor at Heidelberg University in 1987, his research entered the third stage. His core investigation, which connected his early interest in ancient Chinese textual tradition to his later exploration of contemporary literature and politics, was the making of Chinese modern political culture and its link to transcultural interaction. His subject matter during this stage included the late Qing Chinese press and Chinese encyclopedias. Finally, in the last ten years of his life, Wagner’s research centered on the dynamics of transcultural interaction, and the concept of asymmetry as an analytical tool. His research at this time included the role of interpretations of the Zhouli 周禮 (Ritual of Zhou) in Chinese acceptance and advocacy of foreign ideas and institutions, and the metaphors and iconography in Chinese political discourse during the late Qing period.


How to Cite
Bastid-Bruguière, M. (2022). Rudolf Wagner as Historian. The Journal of Transcultural Studies, 12(2), 45–76.