Dennis Grafflin came to Bates from Middlebury College in 1981 to fill the first permanent position in any non-Western history. Trained as a historian of premodern China at Oberlin College, Kyoto University and Harvard University, and with years of residence in Southeast Asia and Japan, he initially taught a ridiculously vast sweep of East Asian history, society, literature and philosophy. With the expansion of faculty resources in Asian Studies, he has retreated to a saner focus on Chinese civilization and its offshoots in Korea and on Taiwan.
His initial research publications focused on early medieval South China — the analysis of medieval Chinese monarchy in its relationship to elite society. Having solved those problems to his own satisfaction, if no one else’s, he has been involved during the last few years with the Warring States Working Group, an international web-based research program that is developing a radically revisionist chronology of the surviving ancient Chinese texts. Most recently, he has translated a collection of philosophical tales that probably do not deserve any broader circulation than they have already garnered.
He is also a prizewinning painter and sculptor with a depressing fondness for ephemera and found objects.