Alan Levinovitz

"The Concept of Toy--at Play with the Zhuangzi"
2011

The Zhuangzi, an early and influential Daoist classic, has always felt like a toy to me. It yields endless meanings, none of which are very stable, and my role as a player/reader has changed as often as those meanings. "Marty Junior Fellow" is an ideal new role for continuing my work (and play) with the Zhuangzi. In the company of other fellows I hope to articulate a detailed and persuasive concept of toy, one that helps illuminate this extraordinary text. I believe the Zhuangzi is a toy appropriate for many potential readers, from scholars of classical Asian thought to non-academics, and therefore I appreciate the Center's explicit focus on addressing a variety of audiences. Zhuangzi himself developed much of his thought in animated dialogues with his best friend, a logician named Huizi. Dialogues with my colleagues at the Marty Center will continue that development, and even if my dissertation doesn't end up looking exactly like the toy it describes, I expect there will be a great deal of fun involved in sharing it.

Religion and Literature