Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series

The Halberd at Red Cliff: Jian’an and the Three Kingdoms
X. Tian, The Halberd at Red Cliff: Jian’an and the Three Kingdoms. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, Forthcoming. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The turn of the third century CE—known as the Jian’an era or Three Kingdoms period—holds double significance for the Chinese cultural tradition. Its writings laid the foundation of classical poetry and literary criticism. Its historical personages and events have also inspired works of poetry, fiction, drama, film, and art throughout Chinese history, including Internet fantasy literature today. There is a vast body of secondary literature on these two subjects individually, but very little on their interface.

The image of the Jian’an era, with its feasting, drinking, heroism, and literary panache, as well as intense male friendship, was to return time and again in the romanticized narrative of the Three Kingdoms. How did Jian’an bifurcate into two distinct nostalgias, one of which was the first paradigmatic embodiment of wen (literary graces, cultural patterning), and the other of wu (heroic martial virtue)? How did these largely segregated nostalgias negotiate with one another? And how is the predominantly male world of the Three Kingdoms appropriated by young women in contemporary China? The Halberd at Red Cliff investigates how these associations were closely related in their complex origins and then came to be divergent in their later metamorphoses.

 

Ancestors, Kings, and the Dao
C. A. Cook, Ancestors, Kings, and the Dao. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, Forthcoming. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Ancestors, Kings, and the Dao outlines the evolution of musical performance in early China, first within and then ultimately away from the socio-religious context of ancestor worship. Examining newly discovered bamboo texts from the Warring States period, Constance A. Cook compares the rhetoric of Western Zhou (1046–771 BCE) and Spring and Autumn (770–481 BCE) bronze inscriptions with later occurrences of similar terms in which ritual music began to be used as a form of self-cultivation and education. Cook’s analysis links the creation of such classics as the Book of Odes with the ascendance of the individual practitioner, further connecting the social actors in three types of ritual: boys coming of age, heirs promoted into ancestral government positions, and the philosophical stages of transcendence experienced in self-cultivation.

The focus of this study is on excavated texts; it is the first to use both bronze and bamboo narratives to show the evolution of a single ritual practice. By viewing the ancient inscribed materials and the transmitted classics from this new perspective, Cook uncovers new linkages in terms of how the materials were shaped and reshaped over time and illuminates the development of eulogy and song in changing ritual contexts.

 

Bannermen Tales (Zidishu): Manchu Storytelling and Cultural Hybridity in the Qing Dynasty
E. S. - Y. Chiu, Bannermen Tales (Zidishu): Manchu Storytelling and Cultural Hybridity in the Qing Dynasty. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, Forthcoming. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Bannermen Tales is the first book in English to offer a comprehensive study of zidishu (bannermen tales)—a popular storytelling genre created by the Manchus in early eighteenth-century Beijing. Contextualizing zidishu in Qing dynasty Beijing, this book examines both bilingual (Manchu-Chinese) and pure Chinese texts, recalls performance venues and features, and discusses their circulation and reception into the early twentieth century.

To go beyond readily available texts, author Elena Chiu engaged in intensive fieldwork and archival research, examining approximately four hundred hand-copied and printed zidishu texts housed in libraries in Mainland China, Taiwan, Germany, and Japan. Guided by theories of minority literature, cultural studies, and intertextuality, Chiu explores both the Han and Manchu cultures in the Qing dynasty through bannermen tales, and argues that they exemplified elements of Manchu cultural hybridization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries while simultaneously attempting to validate and perpetuate the superiority of Manchu identity.

With its original translations, musical score, and numerous illustrations of hand-copied and printed zidishu texts, this study opens a new window into Qing literature and provides a broader basis for evaluating the process of cultural hybridization.

 

Upriver Journeys: Diaspora and Empire in Southern China, 1570–1850
S. B. Miles, Upriver Journeys: Diaspora and Empire in Southern China, 1570–1850. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2017. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Tracing journeys of Cantonese migrants along the West River and its tributaries, this book describes the circulation of people through one of the world’s great river systems between the late sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Steven B. Miles examines the relationship between diaspora and empire in an upriver frontier, and the role of migration in sustaining families and lineages in the homeland of what would become a global diaspora. Based on archival research and multisite fieldwork, this innovative history of mobility explores a set of diasporic practices ranging from the manipulation of household registration requirements to the maintenance of split families.

Many of the institutions and practices that facilitated overseas migration were not adaptations of tradition to transnational modernity; rather, they emerged in the early modern era within the context of riverine migration. Likewise, the extension and consolidation of empire required not only unidirectional frontier settlement and sedentarization of indigenous populations. It was also responsible for the regular circulation between homeland and frontier of people who drove imperial expansion—even while turning imperial aims toward their own purposes of socioeconomic advancement.

 

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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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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Table of Contents

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

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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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures

Introduction

Original Passages in Chinese Script

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

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.

Link to New Books in East Asian Studies podcast

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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

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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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Introduction

List of Tables

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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