Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series

Transgressive Typologies: Constructions of Gender and Power in Early Tang China
R. Doran, Transgressive Typologies: Constructions of Gender and Power in Early Tang China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2017. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The exceptionally powerful Chinese women leaders of the late seventh and early eighth centuries—including Wu Zhao, the Taiping and Anle princesses, Empress Wei, and Shangguan Wan’er—though quite prominent in the Chinese cultural tradition, remain elusive and often misunderstood or essentialized throughout history. Transgressive Typologies utilizes a new, multidisciplinary approach to understand how these figures’ historical identities are constructed in the mainstream secular literary-historical tradition and to analyze the points of view that inform these constructions.

Using close readings and rereadings of primary texts written in medieval China through later imperial times, this study elucidates narrative typologies and motifs associated with these women to explore how their power is rhetorically framed, gendered, and ultimately deemed transgressive. Rebecca Doran offers a new understanding of major female figures of the Tang era within their literary-historical contexts, and delves into critical questions about the relationship between Chinese historiography, reception-history, and the process of image-making and cultural construction.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy
N. Tackett, The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

 

Historians have long been perplexed by the complete disappearance of the medieval Chinese aristocracy by the tenth century—the “great clans” that had dominated China for centuries. In this book, Nicolas Tackett resolves the enigma of their disappearance, using new, digital methodologies to analyze a dazzling array of sources.

Tackett systematically mines thousands of funerary biographies excavated in recent decades—most of them never before examined by scholars—while taking full advantage of the explanatory power of Geographic Information System (GIS) methods and social network analysis. Tackett supplements these analyses with extensive anecdotes culled from epitaphs, prose literature, and poetry, bringing to life women and men who lived a millennium in the past. The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy demonstrates that the great Tang aristocratic families adapted to the social, economic, and institutional transformations of the seventh and eighth centuries far more successfully than previously believed. Their political influence collapsed only after a large number were killed during three decades of extreme violence following Huang Chao’s sack of the capital cities in 880 CE.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction

Index

Li Mengyang, the North-South Divide, and Literati Learning in Ming China
C. W. Ong, Li Mengyang, the North-South Divide, and Literati Learning in Ming China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Li Mengyang (1473–1530) was a scholar-official and man of letters who initiated the literary archaist movement that sought to restore ancient styles of prose and poetry in sixteenth-century China. In this first book-length study of Li in English, Chang Woei Ong comprehensively examines his intellectual scheme and situates Li’s quest to redefine literati learning as a way to build a perfect social order in the context of intellectual transitions since the Song dynasty.

Ong examines Li’s emergence at the distinctive historical juncture of the mid-Ming dynasty, when differences in literati cultures and visions were articulated as a north–south divide (both real and perceived) among Chinese thinkers. Ong argues that this divide, and the ways in which Ming literati compartmentalized learning, is key to understanding Li’s thought and its legacy. Though a northerner, Li became a powerful voice in prose and poetry, in both a positive and negative sense, as he was championed or castigated by the southern literati communities. The southern literati’s indifference toward Li’s other intellectual endeavors—including cosmology, ethics, political philosophy, and historiography—furthered his utter marginalization in those fields.

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Introduction

Index

Celestial Masters: History and Ritual in Early Daoist Communities
T. F. Kleeman, Celestial Masters: History and Ritual in Early Daoist Communities. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

In 142 CE, the divine Lord Lao descended to Mount Cranecall (Sichuan province) to establish a new covenant with humanity through a man named Zhang Ling, the first Celestial Master. Facing an impending apocalypse caused by centuries of sin, Zhang and his descendants forged a communal faith centering on a universal priesthood, strict codes of conduct, and healing through the confession of sins; this faith was based upon a new, bureaucratic relationship with incorruptible supernatural administrators. By the fourth century, Celestial Master Daoism had spread to all parts of China, and has since played a key role in China’s religious and intellectual history.

Celestial Masters is the first book in any Western language devoted solely to the founding of the world religion Daoism. It traces the movement from the mid-second century CE through the sixth century, examining all surviving primary documents in both secular and canonical sources to offer a comprehensive account of the development of this poorly understood religion. It also provides a detailed analysis of ritual life within the movement, covering the roles of common believer or Daoist citizen, novice, and priest or libationer.

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List of Illustrations

Introduction

Index

After the Prosperous Age: State and Elites in Early Nineteenth-Century Suzhou
S. Han, After the Prosperous Age: State and Elites in Early Nineteenth-Century Suzhou. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Scholars have described the eighteenth century in China as a time of “state activism” when the state sought to strengthen its control on various social and cultural sectors. The Taiping Rebellion and the postbellum restoration efforts of the mid-nineteenth century have frequently been associated with the origins of elite activism. However, drawing upon a wide array of sources, including previously untapped Qing government documents, After the Prosperous Age argues that the ascendance of elite activism can be traced to the Jiaqing and Daoguang reigns in the early nineteenth century, and that the Taiping Rebellion served as a second catalyst for the expansion of elite public roles rather than initiating such an expansion.

The first four decades of the nineteenth century in China remain almost uncharted territory. By analyzing the social and cultural interplay between state power and local elites of Suzhou, a city renowned for its economic prosperity and strong sense of local pride, from the eighteenth to the early nineteenth century, Seunghyun Han illuminates the significance of this period in terms of the reformulation of state–elite relations marked by the unfolding of elite public activism and the dissolution of a centralized cultural order.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps, Figures, and Tables

Introduction

Index

Fiction's Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China
E. Widmer, Fiction's Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

At the end of the Qing dynasty, works of fiction by male authors placed women in new roles. Fiction’s Family delves into the writings of one literary family from western Zhejiang whose works were emblematic of shifting attitudes toward women. The mother, Wang Qingdi, and the father, Zhan Sizeng, published their poems during the second half of the nineteenth century. Two of their four sons, Zhan Xi and Zhan Kai, wrote novels that promoted reforms in women’s lives. This book explores the intergenerational link, as well as relations between the sons, to find out how the conflicts faced by the parents may have been refigured in the novels of their sons. Its central question is about the brothers’ reformist attitudes. Were they based on the pronouncements of political leaders? Were they the result of trends in Shanghai publishing? Or did they derive from Wang Qingdi’s disappointment in her “companionate marriage,” as manifested in her poems? By placing one family at the center of this study, Ellen Widmer illuminates the diachronic bridge between the late Qing and the period just before it, the synchronic interplay of genres during the brothers’ lifetimes, and the interaction of Shanghai publishing with regions outside Shanghai.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps, Figures, and Plates

Index

Chinese History: A New Manual, Fourth Edition
E. Wilkinson, Chinese History: A New Manual, Fourth Edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2015. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

At the end of the Qing dynasty, works of fiction by male authors placed women in new roles. Fiction’s Family delves into the writings of one literary family from western Zhejiang whose works were emblematic of shifting attitudes toward women. The mother, Wang Qingdi, and the father, Zhan Sizeng, published their poems during the second half of the nineteenth century. Two of their four sons, Zhan Xi and Zhan Kai, wrote novels that promoted reforms in women’s lives. This book explores the intergenerational link, as well as relations between the sons, to find out how the conflicts faced by the parents may have been refigured in the novels of their sons. Its central question is about the brothers’ reformist attitudes. Were they based on the pronouncements of political leaders? Were they the result of trends in Shanghai publishing? Or did they derive from Wang Qingdi’s disappointment in her “companionate marriage,” as manifested in her poems? By placing one family at the center of this study, Ellen Widmer illuminates the diachronic bridge between the late Qing and the period just before it, the synchronic interplay of genres during the brothers’ lifetimes, and the interaction of Shanghai publishing with regions outside Shanghai.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

List of Boxes

Subject Index

Materializing Magic Power: Chinese Popular Religion in Villages and Cities
W. - P. Lin, Materializing Magic Power: Chinese Popular Religion in Villages and Cities. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2015. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Materializing Magic Power paints a broad picture of the dynamics of popular religion in Taiwan. The first book to explore contemporary Chinese popular religion from its cultural, social, and material perspectives, it analyzes these aspects of religious practice in a unified framework and traces their transformation as adherents move from villages to cities.

In this groundbreaking study, Wei-Ping Lin offers a fresh perspective on the divine power of Chinese deities as revealed in two important material forms—god statues and spirit mediums. By examining the significance of these religious manifestations, Lin identifies personification and localization as the crucial cultural mechanisms that bestow efficacy on deity statues and spirit mediums. She further traces the social consequences of materialization and demonstrates how the different natures of materials mediate distinct kinds of divine power.

The first part of the book provides a detailed account of popular religion in villages. This is followed by a discussion of how rural migrant workers cope with challenges in urban environments by inviting branch statues of village deities to the city, establishing an urban shrine, and selecting a new spirit medium. These practices show how traditional village religion is being reconfigured in cities today.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Maps, Figures, and Tables

Index

Traces of Grand Peace: Classics and State Activism in Imperial China
J. Song, Traces of Grand Peace: Classics and State Activism in Imperial China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2015. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Since the second century BC the Confucian Classics, endorsed by the successive ruling houses of imperial China, had stood in tension with the statist ideals of “big government.” In Northern Song China (960–1127), a group of reform-minded statesmen and thinkers sought to remove the tension between the two by revisiting the highly controversial classic, the Rituals of Zhou: the administrative blueprint of an archaic bureaucratic state with the six ministries of some 370 offices staffed by close to 94,000 men. With their revisionist approaches, they reinvented it as the constitution of state activism. Most importantly, the reform-councilor Wang Anshi’s (1021–1086) new commentary on the Rituals of Zhou rose to preeminence during the New Policies period (ca. 1068–1125), only to be swept into the dustbin of history afterward. By reconstructing his revisionist exegesis from its partial remains, this book illuminates the interplay between classics, thinkers, and government in statist reform, and explains why the uneasy marriage between classics and state activism had to fail in imperial China.

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List of Tables and Figures

Introduction

Original Passages in Chinese Script

Index

One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China
A. Shields, One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2015. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The friendships of writers of the mid-Tang era (780s–820s)—between literary giants like Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen, Han Yu and Meng Jiao, Liu Zongyuan and Liu Yuxi—became famous through the many texts they wrote to and about one another. What inspired mid-Tang literati to write about their friendships with such zeal? And how did these writings influence Tang literary culture more broadly? In One Who Knows Me, the first book to delve into friendship in medieval China, Anna M. Shields explores the literature of the mid-Tang to reveal the complex value its writers discovered in friendship—as a rewarding social practice, a rich literary topic, a way to negotiate literati identity, and a path toward self-understanding. Shields traces the evolution of the performance of friendship through a wide range of genres, including letters, prefaces, exchange poetry, and funerary texts, and interweaves elegant translations with close readings of these texts. For mid-Tang literati, writing about friendship became a powerful way to write about oneself and to reflect upon a shared culture. Their texts reveal the ways that friendship intersected the public and private realms of experience and, in the process, reshaped both.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

Women and National Trauma in Late Imperial Chinese Literature
W. -yee Li, Women and National Trauma in Late Imperial Chinese Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The Ming–Qing dynastic transition in seventeenth-century China was an epochal event that reverberated in Qing writings and beyond; political disorder was bound up with vibrant literary and cultural production. Women and National Trauma in Late Imperial Chinese Literature focuses on the discursive and imaginative space commanded by women. Encompassing writings by women and by men writing in a feminine voice or assuming a female identity, as well as writings that turn women into a signifier through which authors convey their lamentation, nostalgia, or moral questions for the fallen Ming, the book delves into the mentality of those who remembered or reflected on the dynastic transition, as well as those who reinvented its significance in later periods. It shows how history and literature intersect, how conceptions of gender mediate the experience and expression of political disorder.

Why and how are variations on themes related to gender boundaries, female virtues, vices, agency, and ethical dilemmas used to allegorize national destiny? In pursuing answers to these questions, Wai-yee Li explores how this multivalent presence of women in different genres provides a window into the emotional and psychological turmoil of the Ming-Qing transition and of subsequent moments of national trauma.

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Introduction

Index

The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy
N. Tackett, The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The complete disappearance by the tenth century of the medieval Chinese aristocracy, the “great clans” that had dominated China for centuries, has long perplexed historians. In this book, Nicolas Tackett resolves the enigma of their disappearance by using new, digital methodologies to analyze a dazzling array of sources. He systematically exploits the thousands of funerary biographies excavated in recent decades—most of them never before examined by scholars—while taking full advantage of the explanatory power of Geographic Information System (GIS) and social network analysis. Tackett supplements these analyses with an extensive use of anecdotes culled from epitaphs, prose literature, and poetry, bringing to life the women and men of a millennium ago.

The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy demonstrates that the great Tang aristocratic families were far more successful than previously believed in adapting to the social, economic, and institutional transformations of the seventh and eighth centuries. Their political influence collapsed only after a large proportion of them were physically eliminated during the three decades of extreme violence that followed Huang Chao’s sack of the capital cities in 880 CE.
 

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Maps

Introduction

Index

Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination
T. T. Chin, Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Savage Exchange explores the politics of representation during the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) at a pivotal moment when China was asserting imperialist power on the Eurasian continent and expanding its local and long-distance (“Silk Road”) markets. Tamara T. Chin explains why rival political groups introduced new literary forms with which to represent these expanded markets. To promote a radically quantitative approach to the market, some thinkers developed innovative forms of fiction and genre. In opposition, traditionalists reasserted the authority of classical texts and advocated a return to the historical, ethics-centered, marriage-based, agricultural economy that these texts described. The discussion of frontiers and markets thus became part of a larger debate over the relationship between the world and the written word. These Han debates helped to shape the ways in which we now define and appreciate early Chinese literature and produced the foundational texts of Chinese economic thought. Each chapter in the book examines a key genre or symbolic practice (philosophy, fu-rhapsody, historiography, money, kinship) through which different groups sought to reshape the political economy. By juxtaposing well-known texts with recently excavated literary and visual materials, Chin elaborates a new literary and cultural approach to Chinese economic thought.

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List of Illustrations

Introduction

Index

Shifting Stories: History, Gossip, and Lore in Narratives from Tang Dynasty China
S. M. Allen, Shifting Stories: History, Gossip, and Lore in Narratives from Tang Dynasty China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Shifting Stories explores the tale literature of eighth- and ninth-century China to show how the written tales we have today grew out of a fluid culture of hearsay that circulated within elite society. Sarah M. Allen focuses on two main types of tales, those based in gossip about recognizable public figures and those developed out of lore concerning the occult. She demonstrates how writers borrowed and adapted stories and plots already in circulation and how they transformed them—in some instances into unique and artfully wrought tales. For most readers of that era, tales remained open texts, subject to revision by many hands over the course of transmission, unconstrained by considerations of textual integrity or authorship. Only in the mid- to late-ninth century did some readers and editors come to see the particular wording and authorship of a tale as important, a shift that ultimately led to the formation of the Tang tale canon as it is envisioned today.
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Introduction

Index

Modern Archaics: Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900-1937
S. Wu, Modern Archaics: Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900-1937. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

After the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and the rise of a vernacular language movement, most scholars and writers declared the classical Chinese poetic tradition to be dead. But how could a longstanding high poetic form simply grind to a halt, even in the face of tumultuous social change? In this groundbreaking book, Shengqing Wu explores the transformation of Chinese classical-style poetry in the early twentieth century. Drawing on extensive archival research into the poetry collections and literary journals of two generations of poets and critics, Wu discusses the continuing significance of the classical form with its densely allusive and intricately wrought style. She combines close readings of poems with a depiction of the cultural practices their authors participated in, including poetry gatherings, the use of mass media, international travel, and translation, to show how the lyrical tradition was a dynamic force fully capable of engaging with modernity. By examining the works and activities of previously neglected poets who maintained their commitment to traditional aesthetic ideals, Modern Archaics illuminates the splendor of Chinese lyricism and highlights the mutually transformative power of the modern and the archaic.

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Introduction

The Burden of Female Talent: The Poet Li Qingzhao and Her History in China
R. Egan, The Burden of Female Talent: The Poet Li Qingzhao and Her History in China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Widely considered the preeminent Chinese woman poet, Li Qingzhao (1084-1150s) occupies a crucial place in China’s literary and cultural history. She stands out as the great exception to the rule that the first-rank poets in premodern China were male. But at what price to our understanding of her as a writer does this distinction come? The Burden of Female Talent challenges conventional modes of thinking about Li Qingzhao as a devoted but often lonely wife and, later, a forlorn widow. By examining manipulations of her image by the critical tradition in later imperial times and into the twentieth century, Ronald C. Egan brings to light the ways in which critics sought to accommodate her to cultural norms, molding her “talent” to make it compatible with ideals of womanly conduct and identity. Contested images of Li, including a heated controversy concerning her remarriage and its implications for her “devotion” to her first husband, reveal the difficulty literary culture has had in coping with this woman of extraordinary conduct and ability. The study ends with a reappraisal of Li’s poetry, freed from the autobiographical and reductive readings that were traditionally imposed on it and which remain standard even today.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Maps

Introduction

Index

Public Memory in Early China
K. E. Brashier, Public Memory in Early China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

In early imperial China, the dead were remembered by stereotyping them, by relating them to the existing public memory and not by vaunting what made each person individually distinct and extraordinary in his or her lifetime. Their posthumous names were chosen from a limited predetermined pool; their descriptors were derived from set phrases in the classical tradition; and their identities were explicitly categorized as being like this cultural hero or that sage official in antiquity. In other words, postmortem remembrance was a process of pouring new ancestors into prefabricated molds or stamping them with rigid cookie cutters.

Public Memory in Early China is an examination of this pouring and stamping process. After surveying ways in which learning in the early imperial period relied upon memorization and recitation, K. E. Brashier treats three definitive parameters of identity—name, age, and kinship—as ways of negotiating a person’s relative position within the collective consciousness. He then examines both the tangible and intangible media responsible for keeping that defined identity welded into the infrastructure of Han public memory.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

List of Tables

Index

Courtesans, Concubines, and the Cult of Female Fidelity
B. Bossler, Courtesans, Concubines, and the Cult of Female Fidelity. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2013. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

This book traces changing gender relations in China from the tenth to fourteenth centuries by examining three critical categories of women: courtesans, concubines, and faithful wives. It shows how the intersection and mutual influence of these groups—and of male discourses about them—transformed ideas about family relations and the proper roles of men and women. Courtesan culture profoundly affected Song social and family life, as entertainment skills became a defining feature of a new model of concubinage and entertainer-concubines increasingly became mothers of literati sons. Neo-Confucianism, the new moral learning of the Song, was in turn significantly shaped by this entertainment culture and the new markets in women it created. Responding to a broad social consensus, Neo-Confucians called for enhanced ritual recognition of concubine mothers and expressed increased concern about wifely jealousy. The book also details the sometimes surprising origins of the Late Imperial cult of fidelity, showing that from its inception the drive to celebrate female loyalty stemmed from a complex amalgam of political, social, and moral agendas. By taking women—and men’s relationships with them—seriously, Beverly Bossler demonstrates the centrality of gender relations in the social, political, and intellectual life of the Song and Yuan dynasties.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction

Index

J. Norman, A Comprehensive Manchu-English Dictionary. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2013. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Jerry Norman’s Comprehensive Manchu–English Dictionary, a substantial revision and enlargement of his Concise Manchu–English Lexicon of 1978, now long out of print, is poised to become the standard English-language resource on the Manchu language. As the dynastic language of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Manchu was used in official documents and was also the vehicle for an enormous translation literature, mostly from the Chinese. The new Dictionary, based exclusively on Qing sources, retains all of the information from the earlier Lexicon, but also includes hundreds of additional entries cited from original Manchu texts, enhanced cross-references, and an entirely new introduction on Manchu pronunciation and script. All content from the earlier publication has also been verified.

This final book from the preeminent Manchu linguist in the English-speaking world is a reference work that not only updates Norman’s earlier scholarship but also summarizes his decades of study of the Manchu language. The Dictionary, which represents a significant scholarly contribution to the field of Inner Asian studies and to all students and scholars of Manchu and other Tungusic and related languages around the world, will become a major tool for archival research on Chinese late imperial period history and government.

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Drifting among Rivers and Lakes: Southern Song Dynasty Poetry and the Problem of Literary History
M. Fuller, Drifting among Rivers and Lakes: Southern Song Dynasty Poetry and the Problem of Literary History. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2013. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

What drives literary change? Does literature merely follow shifts in a culture, or does it play a distinctive role in shaping emergent trends? Michael Fuller explores these questions while examining the changes in Chinese shi poetry from the late Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) to the end of the Southern Song (1127–1279), a period of profound social and cultural transformation.

Shi poetry written in response to events was the dominant literary genre in Song dynasty China, serving as a central form through which literati explored meaning in their encounters with the world. By the late Northern Song, however, old models for meaning were proving inadequate, and Daoxue (Neo-Confucianism) provided an increasingly attractive new ground for understanding the self and the world. Drifting among Rivers and Lakes traces the intertwining of the practice of poetry, writings on poetics, and the debates about Daoxue that led to the cultural synthesis of the final years of the Southern Song and set the pattern for Chinese society for the next six centuries. Examining the writings of major poets and Confucian thinkers of the period, Fuller discovers the slow evolution of a complementarity between poetry and Daoxue in which neither discourse was self-sufficient.

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Introduction

Index

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