Michael J. Puett

Non-resident Long-term Fellow for Programmes in Anthropological and Historical Sciences and
the Languages and Civilizations of East Asia, SCAS
Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History, and Harvard College Professor, Harvard University

Michael J. Puett received his Ph.D. in 1994 from the Department of Anthropology at the University
of Chicago. He is Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian
Languages and Civilizations and the Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard

In his research, Puett aims to bring the study of early China into larger historical and comparative
frameworks. He has published many articles about China during the Warring States and early Han
periods (from the fourth to the first centuries bc inclusive). His books include The Ambivalence of
Creation: Debates Concerning Innovation and Artifice in Early China
(2001), in which he considers
debates about the conditions under which it is acceptable for humans to create anew, and To Become
a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China
(2002), in which he reconstructs
long-running debates in early China about the proper relationship between humans and gods. Puett is
the co-author, with Adam Seligman, Robert Weller and Bennett Simon, of Ritual and Its Consequences:
An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity
(2008), and, with Christine Gross-Loh, of The Path: What Chinese
Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life

In 2016, Puett was elected foreign member of the ‘Class for humanities and for outstanding services to
science’ of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Michael J. Puett is in residence at the Collegium in May-June 2019.
This information is accurate as of the academic year 2018-19.