Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series

2009
Empire of Texts in Motion: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature
K. L. Thornber, Empire of Texts in Motion: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

By the turn of the twentieth century, Japan’s military and economic successes made it the dominant power in East Asia, drawing hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese students to the metropole and sending thousands of Japanese to other parts of East Asia. The constant movement of peoples, ideas, and texts in the Japanese empire created numerous literary contact nebulae, fluid spaces of diminished hierarchies where writers grapple with and transculturate one another’s creative output.

Drawing extensively on vernacular sources in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, this book analyzes the most active of these contact nebulae: semicolonial Chinese, occupied Manchurian, and colonial Korean and Taiwanese transculturations of Japanese literature. It explores how colonial and semicolonial writers discussed, adapted, translated, and recast thousands of Japanese creative works, both affirming and challenging Japan’s cultural authority. Such efforts not only blurred distinctions among resistance, acquiescence, and collaboration but also shattered cultural and national barriers central to the discourse of empire. In this context, twentieth-century East Asian literatures can no longer be understood in isolation from one another, linked only by their encounters with the West, but instead must be seen in constant interaction throughout the Japanese empire and beyond.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

Empire's Twilight: Northeast Asia under the Mongols
D. M. Robinson, Empire's Twilight: Northeast Asia under the Mongols. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The rise of the Mongol empire transformed world history. Its collapse in the mid-fourteenth century had equally profound consequences. Four themes dominate this study of the late Mongol empire in Northeast Asia during this chaotic era: the need for a regional perspective encompassing all states and ethnic groups in the area; the process and consequences of pan-Asian integration under the Mongols; the tendency for individual and family interests to trump those of dynasty, country, or linguistic affiliation; and finally, the need to see Koryo Korea as part of the wider Mongol empire.

Northeast Asia was an important part of the Mongol empire, and developments there are fundamental to understanding both the nature of the Mongol empire and the new post-empire world emerging in the 1350s and 1360s. In Northeast Asia, Jurchen, Mongol, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese interests intersected, and the collapse of the Great Yuan reshaped Northeast Asia dramatically. To understand this transition, or series of transitions, the author argues, one cannot examine states in isolation. The period witnessed intensified interactions among neighboring polities and new regional levels of economic, political, military, and social integration that explain the importance of personal and family interests and of Korea in the Mongol state.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

2008
Lost Soul: "Confucianism" in Contemporary Chinese Academic Discourse
J. Makeham, Lost Soul: "Confucianism" in Contemporary Chinese Academic Discourse. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Since the mid-1980s, Taiwan and mainland China have witnessed a sustained resurgence of academic and intellectual interest in ruxue—“Confucianism”—variously conceived as a form of culture, an ideology, a system of learning, and a tradition of normative values. This discourse has led to a proliferation of contending conceptions of ruxue, as well as proposals for rejuvenating it to make it a vital cultural and psycho-spiritual resource in the modern world.

This study aims to show how ruxue has been conceived in order to assess the achievements of this enterprise; to identify which aspects of ru thought and values academics find viable, and why; to highlight the dynamics involved in the ongoing cross-fertilization between academics in China and Taiwan; and to examine the relationship between these activities and cultural nationalism.

Four key arguments are developed. First, the process of intellectual cross-fertilization and rivalry between scholars has served to sustain academic interest in ruxue. Second, contrary to conventional wisdom, party-state support in the PRC does not underpin the continuing academic discourse on ruxue. Third, cultural nationalism, rather than state nationalism, better explains the nature of this activity. Fourth, academic discourse on ruxue provides little evidence of robust philosophical creativity.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

2007
Beacon Fire and Shooting Star: The Literary Culture of the Liang (502–557)
X. Tian, Beacon Fire and Shooting Star: The Literary Culture of the Liang (502–557). Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

 

The Liang dynasty (502-557) is one of the most brilliant and creative periods in Chinese history and one of the most underestimated and misunderstood. Under the Liang, literary activities, such as writing, editing, anthologizing, and cataloguing, were pursued on an unprecedented scale, yet the works of this era are often dismissed as "decadent" and no more than a shallow prelude to the glories of the Tang.

This book is devoted to contextualizing the literary culture of this era--not only the literary works themselves but also the physical process of literary production such as the copying and transmitting of texts; activities such as book collecting, anthologizing, cataloguing, and various forms of literary scholarship; and the intricate interaction of religion, particularly Buddhism, and literature. Its aim is to explore the impact of social and political structure on the literary world.

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