Publications

2008
The Power of the Buddhas: The Politics of Buddhism during the Koryo Dynasty (918 - 1392)
S. Vermeersch, The Power of the Buddhas: The Politics of Buddhism during the Koryo Dynasty (918 - 1392). Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Buddhism in medieval Korea is characterized as “State Protection Buddhism,” a religion whose primary purpose was to rally support (supernatural and popular) for and legitimate the state. In this view, the state used Buddhism to engender compliance with its goals. A closer look, however, reveals that Buddhism was a canvas on which people projected many religious and secular concerns and desires.

This study is an attempt to specify Buddhism’s place in Koryo and to ascertain to what extent and in what areas Buddhism functioned as a state religion. Was state support the main reason for Buddhism’s dominance in Koryo? How actively did the state seek to promote religious ideals? What was the strength of Buddhism as an institution and the nature of its relationship to the state? What role did Confucianism, the other state ideology, play in Koryo? This study argues that Buddhism provided most of the symbols and rituals, and some of the beliefs, that constructed an aura of legitimacy, but that there was no single ideological system underlying the Koryo dynasty’s legitimating strategies.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables, Maps, and Figures

Introduction

Index

Reading Tao Yuanming: Shifting Paradigms of Historical Reception (427 - 1900)
W. Swartz, Reading Tao Yuanming: Shifting Paradigms of Historical Reception (427 - 1900). Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Tao Yuanming (365?–427), although dismissed as a poet following his death, is now considered one of China’s greatest writers. Over the centuries, portrayals of his life—some focusing on his eccentricity, others on his exemplary virtue—have elevated him to iconic status. This study of the posthumous reputation of a central figure in Chinese literary history, the mechanisms at work in the reception of his works, and the canonization of Tao himself and of particular readings of his works sheds light on the transformation of literature and culture in premodern China. It focuses on readers’ interpretive negotiations with Tao’s works and on changes in hermeneutical practices, critical vocabulary, and cultural demands, as well as the intervention of interested and influential readers, in order to trace the construction of Tao Yuanming. Driven by a dialogue on categories at the very heart of literati culture—reclusion, personality, and poetry—this cumulative process spanning fifteen centuries, the author argues, helps explain the very different pictures of Tao Yuanming and the divergent ways of reading his works across time and illuminates central issues animating premodern Chinese culture.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Index

Uchida Hyakken: A Critique of Modernity and Militarism in Prewar Japan
R. DiNitto, Uchida Hyakken: A Critique of Modernity and Militarism in Prewar Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

The literary career of Uchida Hyakken (1889–1971) encompassed a wide variety of styles and genres, including fiction, zuihitsu (essays), war diaries, poetry, travelogues, and children’s stories. In discussing his oeuvre, critics have circumscribed Hyakken to a private literary realm detached from the era in which he wrote.

Rachel DiNitto provides a critical corrective by locating in Hyakken’s simple yet powerful literary language a new way to appreciate the various literary reactions to the modernization of the early decades of the twentieth century and a means to open up a literary space of protest, an alternate intellectual response to the era of militarism.

This book takes up Hyakken’s fiction and essays written during Japan’s prewar years to investigate the intersection of his literature with the material and discursive surroundings of the time: a consumer-oriented print culture; the popular entertainment of film; the capitalist and cultural force of an emergent middle class; a planned, yet sprawling metropolis; and the war machine of an expanding Japanese ­empire. Emerging from this analysis is a writer who relied on the quotidian language of the everyday and the symbols of cultural modernism to counter the harsh realities of modernization and imperialism and to express sentiments contrary to the mainstream ideological rhetoric of the time.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

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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(TBA)

 

Commerce in Culture: The Sibao Book Trade in the Qing and Republican Periods
C. J. Brokaw, Commerce in Culture: The Sibao Book Trade in the Qing and Republican Periods. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007. Buy this book from Harvard University PressAbstract

Sibao today is a cluster of impoverished villages in the mountains of western Fujian. Yet from the late seventeenth through the early twentieth century, it was home to a flourishing publishing industry. Through itinerant booksellers and branch bookshops managed by Sibao natives, this industry supplied much of south China with cheap educational texts, household guides, medical handbooks, and fortune-telling manuals.

It is precisely the ordinariness of Sibao imprints that make them valuable for the study of commercial publishing, the text-production process, and the geographical and social expansion of book culture in Chinese society. In a study with important implications for cultural and economic history, Cynthia Brokaw describes rural, lower-level publishing and bookselling operations at the end of the imperial period. Commerce in Culture traces how the poverty and isolation of Sibao necessitated a bare-bones approach to publishing and bookselling and how the Hakka identity of the Sibao publishers shaped the configuration of their distribution networks and even the nature of their publications.

Sibao’s industry reveals two major trends in print culture: the geographical extension of commercial woodblock publishing to hinterlands previously untouched by commercial book culture and the related social penetration of texts to lower-status levels of the population.


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Table of Contents

List of Tables, Maps, and Figures

Introduction

Appendix D

Appendix E

Appendix F

Appendix G

Index

Pages