Sarah A. Queen

Contact Sarah A. Queen
Office: 214 Winthrop
Phone: 860-439-2590
Fax: 860-439-5332

Sarah A. Queen, Professor of History

Professor of History

Joined Connecticut College: 1992

On sabbatical 2014-2015 academic year

B.A., Wellesley College
M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University

• Early Chinese cultural history • The spiritual and philosophical dimensions of Confucianism and Daoism • Confucianism in East Asia Today (Confucianism and Human Rights; Confucianism and Democratization; and Confucianism and Ecology)

Sarah Queen's primary research examines China's philosophical and religious foundations as it was expressed in early texts written by practitioners of the Confucian and Daoist traditions. Her research focuses on the ways in which these two traditions shaped early ethical and spiritual norms, conceptions of the body, state, and cosmos as well as Confucian and Daoist self-cultivation as distinctive forms of religious experience.

She is also very interested in the modern transformation of the Confucian tradition, particularly the ways in which Confucianism informs contemporary debates concerning the establishment of human rights and democracy in East Asia.

Professor Queen was awarded a grant from the Harvard University Asia Center to organize a conference in Spring 2008 focusing on the first-ever complete English translation of a key ancient Chinese text, the Huainanzi. This 21-chapter text from the 2nd century (BCE) Han Dynasty was intended to provide a contemporary ruler with an encyclopedic overview of philosophy, administrative and managerial techniques, and all of the scientific and technical knowledge needed to govern effectively. The conference, titled "Visions of Empire: New Perspectives on the Huainanzi," was co-coordinated by Queen and Michael Puett, professor of Chinese history at Harvard University

Professor Queen's first book From Chronicle to Canon: The Hermeneutics of the Spring and Autumn Annals (1996) examines the role of the holy book in the Confucian tradition. 

Professor Queen offers a variety of courses on pre-modern and modern Chinese history including: 115: Introduction to Chinese Civilization; 118 The Cult of Mao; 224 Foundations of Chinese Thought I; 278 Foundations of Chinese Thought II; 262: China in Revolution; 493a: Voices of Dissent; 493d: China's Confucian Legacy; 493j: Human Rights in China; and 493r Disciples of the Dao.

Recent books and articles

  • "Engendering Public Memory in Early China: Song Boji of the Spring and Autumn Annals," in Michael Ing and Alexus McLeod ed., The Unity of Nature and Humanity: New Essays in Han Dynasty Thought (In progress)

  • The Chunqiu fanlu: Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals, by Dong Zhongshu, a translation and study, co-authored with John S. Major (Forthcoming Columbia University Press, 2014)

  • "The Rhetoric of Dong Zhongshu’s Imperial Communications" in Olberding ed., Addressing the Autocrat: The Drama of Early Chinese Court Discourse (Harvard University Press, 2013)

  • "Representations of Confucius in the Huainanzi" in Queen and Puett ed., The Huainanzi and Textual Production in Early China, co-edited with Michael Puett, (Brill Press, 2013)

  • The Huainanzi and Textual Production in Early China, co-edited with Michael Puett, (Brill Press, 2013)

  • Han Feizi and the Old Master: A Comparative Analysis and Translation of Han Feizi Chapter 20,"Jie Lao," and Chapter 21, "Yu Lao," in Paul Goldin ed., Dao Companion to the Philosophy of Han Feizi, (Springer Press, 2013)

  • The Huainanzi: Basic Writings, co-authored with John S. Major, Harold D. Roth and Andrew Meyer, (Columbia University Press, 2012)

  • The Huainanzi: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Royal Government in 139 B.C.E., by Liu An, King of Huainan, a translation and study by Sarah A. Queen, John S. Major, Harold D. Roth and Andrew Meyer with additional contributions by Michael Puett and Judson Murray, (Columbia Press, March 2010)

Recent conferences

  • "The Limits of Praise and Blame: Rhetorical Uses of Anecdotes in the Gongyang Commentary," Workshop on Ancient Chinese Anecdotes, Leiden University, Leiden, Holland June 1-2, 2013

  • "The Ethics of Warfare in the Gongyang Commentary, for the conference titled "War of Ideas, Ideas of War," Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, June 6-8, 2013

  • "Engendering Memory: Song Boji of the Spring and Autumn Annals," American Oriental Society, March, 2012

  • "The Many Faces of Boji of Song," Workshop on Women in the Zhuozuan, New York University, September 16, 2011

  • "Han Feizi and the Old Master: An Analysis of Two Early Commentaries to the Daodejing," presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Chicago, Illinois, March 14, 2011

  • "Huainanzi Chapter 12: Responses to the Way," presented to the Religious Studies Department, Huainanzi Seminar, March 10, 2011

  • "The Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals," presented at the Early China Seminar, Columbia University, February 27, 2011

  • "Is there a Suburban Sacrifice in the Book of Odes," presented at the Book of Odes Workshop, New York University, September 26, 2011

View the history department website.

"And now that we have returned to the desultory life of the plain, let us endeavor to import a little of that mountain grandeur into it. We will remember within what walls we lie, and understand that this level life too has its summit, and why from the mountain-top the deepest valleys have a tinge of blue; that there is elevation in every hour, as no part of the earth is so low that the heavens may not be seen from, and we have only to stand on the summit of our hour to command an uninterrupted horizon." -  Henry David Thoreau, A Walk to Wachusett, The Natural History Essays