The wandering mind
I am currently in charge of an international cross-disciplinary project on “mind wandering” in various traditions of meditation, contemplation and self-cultivation. In the Chinese context, the project is about Confucianism and Daoism in the classical era, as well as the Buddhism of the Ming and Qing dynasties. In addition, the project also includes Indian yoga philosophy and Christian desert fathers, as well as modern neuroscience and philosophy of mind.
Meditation and self-cultivation
I have also run an international cross-disciplinary project on cultural histories of meditation, seeking to explore all the greater and some smaller traditions of meditation. My contributions discuss Chinese forms of self-cultivation, as well as general questions underlying the study of meditation.
I have long been working on a study of the psychological structures of the great Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber 紅樓夢 from the mid-18th century.
The past in the present
I also work on Chinese linguistics, currently in particular with the modern use of elements from Classical Chinese. I have also been interested in syntactic structures and function words.
Background and higher education
I completed my magister in linguistics in 1987 and my dr. philos. in 1993, both at the University of Oslo, where I have been professor of Chinese since 1995.
I have had visiting positions at Princeton University (1992), National Taiwan University (1995), Peking University (2000), Harvard University (2001), Center for Chinese Studies, National Central Library, Taiwan (2007), National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan (2009), and Meiji University, Japan (2018).
I have been Head of the Department of East European and Oriental Studies, University of Oslo (1997-1999) and Head of Research in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo (2005-2006).
Areas of teaching and supervision
- Chinese language, literature and culture
- General linguistics
- Cultural histories of meditation
I teach Chinese language, literature and culture at BA and MA levels. From time to time I also teach East Asian and general linguistics.
Areas of academic competence
- Chinese language (modern and pre-modern)
- Chinese literature (in particular pre-modern fiction)
- Chinese philosophy (in particular early Confucianism and Daoism)
- Language and culture; language and thought
- Meditative traditions
- Chinese mentality and culture