Dr. P. (Paul) van Els

  • Lecturer
  • Chinese philosophy and language

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2595
E-Mail: p.van.els@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, SAS China
Office Address: Arsenaal
Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number 0.19
Personal Homepage: www.paulvanels.nl

Fields of interest

In times of major social and political turmoil, such as the Warring States Period (403-221 BCE) in China, what solutions do literati offer to restore order in society? What worldviews do they develop? What do they think - for instance - of man's function in society, of war and peace, of self-cultivation? What rhetorical strategies do they employ to persuade others of the validity and importance of their views? --- Questions such as these inspire my research and teaching.


My PhD research focused on the Wenzi, a controversial Chinese politico-philosophical text of the Daoist tradition. I studied the date, authorship, and philosophy of the Wenzi, and analyzed its reception history, with an emphasis on the dramatic change in its evaluation: from an admired authentic work to a worthless forgery.
Subsequently, I worked on early Chinese views on war and peace. This includes, for instance, a study of Mozi’s passionate argumentation “against offensive warfare” and a study of systematic classifications of warfare by several early Chinese thinkers.
Recently, my research focus shifted to rhetoric, as I am trying to understand the rhetorical function of anecdotes in early Chinese argumentative writings.

Curriculum vitae

doctoral student of Chinese Studies at Leiden University, including one year abroad for an intensive Modern Standard Chinese language training at Beijing Language and Cultural University (1995-1996) and one year abroad as an exchange student of Oriental Studies, with Socrates scholarship, at Cambridge University (1997-1998)

post-doctoral exchange student, with Talent scholarship, at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

PhD student, with research grant, at Leiden University

lecturer in Chinese Studies at Leiden University, fully tenured since 2009

Teaching activities

I teach Classical Chinese language courses on all levels (BA, MA) and develop a textbook for Classical Chinese, the first of its kind in Dutch. I also teach courses on Chinese philosophy, history and culture. 

Last Modified: 31-01-2013