Silk Road Journey of the Eurasian Lute
James A. Millward is Professor of Intersocietal History at the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Department of History, Georgetown University. His areas of expertise include China and Central Asia, including Mongolia, Tibet, and especially Xinjiang. His most recent book, The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2013), is both an introduction to, and provocative argument about, the nature and significance of trans-Eurasian exchanges in world history. Its chapters examine biological, technological and artistic exchanges against the background of Central Eurasian history, the impact of nomad empires, and continuing resonances of the silk road in international relations and popular culture. The lively style and handy format of the Very Short Introduction series makes them ideal traveling companions. Millward's lecture will be about the ancestors of the guitar, viols, mandolin and other members of the stringed instrument family, which hail from Central Eurasia and traveled both east and west along what we call the "Silk Road." Aspects of their musical and social contexts spread along with the instruments themselves, and examining these journeys gives us a deeper sense of what Eurasian cultural exchanges in ancient and medieval times entailed. Silk Road interactions involved more than the conveyance of a thing from point A to point B; these conversations laid the shared substratum of old world civilization and continue to resonate today, whenever strings are strummed.