Jessey Choo

Chinese History and Religion, New Brunswick
Fellowship: 15.01.–14.07.2019



Fellow Video


Professor Choo is a cultural historian specializing in China's medieval period (200-1000 CE), with particular expertise in Chinese entombed epigraphy (muzhiming 墓志銘). Her current research centers on cultural and religious practices associated with death and childbirth, as well as the acquisition and exercise of personal agency in everyday life. Specifically, she is interested in the tension between the "Confucian" emphasis on selfless devotion to one's parents and family and the growing importance of pursuing personal agency, identity, and salvation. Her forthcoming book from the University of Hawai'I Press, Inscribing Death: Burials, Texts, and Remembrance in Tang China, 618-907, explores how people in late medieval China fashioned and preserved the identities and memories of the dead, themselves, and their families through burial practices and entombed epitaphs. 

Fields of Research

culture memory; entombed epigraphy; everyday life; magico-religious medicine; medieval China; popular religions; women and gender

Project outline

Immortalized in Stone: Memory Making in Late Medieval China

We propose to co-author a monograph, tentatively titled "Immortalized in Stone: Memory Making in Late Medieval China,” exploring the construction, circulation, and consumption of memory in China’s 7th through 10th centuries. Through interdisciplinary and collaborative analyses of the thousands of entombed epitaphs recently excavated in China, we trace the practices and processes of representing individuals and collectives and the propagation and preservation of the resulting identities and memories. This would be the first monograph focusing on late medieval Chinese entombed epigraphy in English and the first in-depth study in any language of the “life-cycle" of memory in the said period. Its primary scholarly contribution is advancing our knowledge of the mechanism through which late medieval Chinese interpreted the past, justified the present, and manipulate the future. Our comprehensive and sophisticated approach to analyze entombed epigraphies would supersede those currently used in researching Chinese history, literature, and religion. Thoroughly grounded in the everyday life of a medieval world, our theory of memory would provide medieval scholars outside of the China field a useful comparison and an alternative to those developed from observation of modern practices and technologies.

Publications (Selection)


  • Inscribing Death: Burials, Texts and Remembrance in Tang China, 618-907 CE. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press [forthcoming]


Co-Edited Books

  • Tales from Tang Dynasty China: Selections from the Taiping Guangji. Edited by Alexei Kamran Ditter, Jessey J.C. Choo, and Sarah M. Allen. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 2017 [xliv, 176 pages].
  • Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook. Edited by Wendy Swartz, Robert F. Campany, Yang Lu, and Jessey J.C. Choo. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014 [xxi, 720 pages; A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2014 and Library Journal Best Reference title of 2014].


Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • »Shall We Profane the Service of the Dead?-Burial Divination and Remembrance in Late Medieval Muzhiming,« Tang Studies 33 (2015): 1-37.
  • »That ›Fatty Lump‹: Discourses on the Fetus, Fetal Development, and Filial Piety in Early Imperial China.« Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in Early and Imperial China 14.2 (2012): 177-221.


Chapters in Peer-reviewed Books

  • »Tang Xuan.« In Tales from Tang Dynasty China. Edited by Alexei K. Ditter, et al., 76-85. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 2017.
  • »Yiwen Leiju (Collection of Literature Arranged by Subjects).« In Early Medieval Chinese Texts: a bibliographical guide. Edited by Alan Berkowitz, Cynthia Chennault, Albert Dien and Keith Knapp., 454-464. Berkeley & Los Angeles: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California Press, 2015.
  • »Part V Introduction: Everyday Life.« In Early Medieval China. Edited by Wendy Swartz et al., 429-433. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.
  • »Adoption and Motherhood: The Petition Submitted by Lady [neé] Yu.« In Early Medieval China. Edited by Wendy Swartz et al., 511-529. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.
  • »Destiny and Healing.« In Chinese Medicine and Healing: An Illustrated History. Edited by T. J. Hinrichs and Linda Barnes, 70. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.