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Summer Poster


Eric Lee, 2014 Summer ScholarEric Lee

2014 Summer Scholars and Artists Program award recipient

Majors: Medieval Studies and History

School: Harpur College of Arts and Sciences

Project Title: Corruption and Bureaucracy in the Song Dynasty: A New Political Culture and Tradition

Project Description:

The transition from the Tang (618–907 C.E.) to the Song dynasty (960-1279 C.E.) marked a great change in the Chinese bureaucratic system. The Song dynasty, rising from a regional kingdom, brought an end to decades of bloodshed; China was once again unified. Decades of destruction, on the other hand, dissolved the old aristocracies that used to dominate the upper echelon of politics. The Song political structure, which admitted new members into bureaucracy through its monumental reinvention of the civil examination system, shaped a new political culture that heavily emphasized personal merit and an official career. With all these changes in mind, my goal is to interpret the cultural implications of reintroducing the civil examination system, and to examine the relationship between this new political culture and bureaucratic corruption.

Eric’s faculty mentor is John Chaffee, distinguished service professor of history and Asian and Asian-American studies, Harpur College of Arts and Sciences.

A quick Q&A with Eric:

Where is your hometown?

When I was 13, I emigrated from a small town in China that is just a hundred miles away from the Chinese-North Korean border. Before I came to Binghamton I lived in Forest Hills, N.Y.

Why do you think research is important?

I like doing research because I am naturally a really opinionated and stubborn person, but at the same time, I am introverted. Doing research is a way to express myself in a really free platform without too much scrutiny from others.

What are your future plans?

My plan after graduation is going into a graduate program in history that has strong concentrations in China and medieval Europe. Then, I hope to teach history.

Do you have any hobbies?

I am pretty much a bookworm. Another hobby is visiting art museums; I have been to the Met more than 20 times in four years. I’ve also gone to other museums in the world whenever I've gotten opportunities. So far, I've crossed off the Met, the British, the Louvre and the Forbidden Palace from my list of must-go museums. From time to time, I practice classical style Chinese painting and calligraphy.

Can you share a fun fact about yourself?

I once starred as a supporting character in a friend’s movie. My friend later commented that my acting style is “awkward and ludicrous,” hence I gave up that possible career path!

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Last Updated: 5/12/14