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Changing political and intellectual landscapes during the mid-Ming: revival of private academies, emergence of jianghui, and the enshrinement case of 1584

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This thesis examines the relationship between political culture, Confucian intellectuals, and the rise of a new intellectual and cultural paradigm during the early to mid-Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644). The main goal of this thesis is to supplement current scholarshi

This thesis examines the relationship between political culture, Confucian intellectuals, and the rise of a new intellectual and cultural paradigm during the early to mid-Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644). The main goal of this thesis is to supplement current scholarship on Chen Xianzhang’s 陳獻章 (1428 – 1500) life as an intellectual of Cantonese origin and his political activities at both local and national levels. Furthermore, the thesis supplements current research on the Yangming School and the School’s contribution to the revitalization of private academies during the Ming with a study on the relationship between the three Confucian intellectuals enshrined in 1584 and the revival of private academies from the perspective of political history. In analyzing the relationship between these various aspects of the Ming political and intellectual landscapes, the thesis uses the 1584 Confucian Temple enshrinement, which involved Wang Yangming 王陽明 (1472 – 1529) and his two older contemporary Confucian intellectuals, Chen Xianzhang and Hu Juren 胡居仁 (1434 – 1484), as an entry point to explore the dynamics behind the political and cultural changes at the time. It aims to investigate the issue of cultural power versus imperial power, the central-versus-peripheral narrative in Ming politics, the evolution of how cultural power was asserted by members of the Confucian tradition, and the manifestation of such evolution in response to contemporary political discussions. The author begins with an analysis of the revival of private academies (shuyuan 書院) during the mid-Ming, and the influence of Chen Xianzhang and Hu Juren in this revival. He then dissects the relationship between the revival of private academies and the emergence of jianghui 講會 (discussion gatherings) in the following decades. Finally, the thesis discusses the struggle of mid-Ming intellectuals in gaining cultural legitimization for both private academies and jianghui activities by urging the imperial court to give due recognition through enshrining Wang, Chen, and Hu in the Confucian Temple, and the historical significance of this struggle to the development of the Confucian tradition in the Ming. The author ultimately argues that Chen Xianzhang, contrary to the common perception about him being a philosopher-poet who was indifferent to political discourses, was in fact a politically active intellectual; and that Chen’s contributions to the revival of private academies in Guangdong predated that of Wang Yangming in the Jiangnan region.

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2016

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Rebirth of a lineage: the hereditary household of the Han Celestial Master and Celestial Masters Daoism at Dragon and Tiger Mountain

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This dissertation is a study and translation of the Hereditary Household of the Han Celestial Master (Han tianshi shijia 漢天師世家), a hagiographical account of successive generations of the Zhang family patriarchs of Celestial Masters Daoism (Tianshi dao 天師道) at Dragon

This dissertation is a study and translation of the Hereditary Household of the Han Celestial Master (Han tianshi shijia 漢天師世家), a hagiographical account of successive generations of the Zhang family patriarchs of Celestial Masters Daoism (Tianshi dao 天師道) at Dragon and Tiger Mountain (Longhu shan 龍虎山) in Jiangxi province that was compiled in stages between the late fourteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The Zhang family emerged in the late Tang or early Five dynasties period and rose to great prominence and power through the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties on the basis of the claim of direct and unbroken lineal descent from Zhang Daoling 張道陵 the ancestral Celestial Master whose covenant with the deified Laozi in 142 C.E. is a founding event of the Daoist religion. In this study I trace the lineal history of the Zhang family as presented in the Hereditary Household in chronological parallel to contrasting narratives found in official histories, epigraphy, and the literary record. This approach affords insight into the polemical nature of the text as an assertion of legitimacy and allows for a demonstration of how the work represents an attempt to create in writing an idealized past in order to win prestige in the present. It also affords the opportunity to scour the historical record in an attempt to ascertain a plausible timeframe for the origin of the movement and to explore the relationship of the Hereditary Household to earlier hagiographic works that may have informed it. This study also contextualizes the Hereditary Household in the post-Tang religious climate of China. In that period the establishment of lineal authenticity and institutional charisma through narratives of descent became a widespread tool of legitimation employed by Buddhists, Daoists, and Confucians in hopes of obtaining imperial recognition and patronage.

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2016

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Biography and the world of discourse in early medieval China a study of "The Stele of Lord Lu

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Wu Yun (d. 778) was prominent poet at the Tang court. His biography of the Daoist ritualist Lu Xiujing (406-77) can be read on several levels. It functions as a source of information on Lu's life and works, but a

Wu Yun (d. 778) was prominent poet at the Tang court. His biography of the Daoist ritualist Lu Xiujing (406-77) can be read on several levels. It functions as a source of information on Lu's life and works, but a reading focused on this alone is insufficient. Conventions of Chinese biography dictate the text is read not just with an eye towards who Lu "really was," but also how he functions as a character fashioned by an author for certain purposes. With this in mind, the reader can learn not just about Lu, but about the audience of the text and the aims of its author. Lu functioned as a model for later Daoist masters and as an exhortation to proper conduct towards them on the part of rulers and elites. Finally, with reference to the work of Michel Foucault and scholars of collective memory, this work can be read as a window onto the world of discourse in early medieval China.

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2012

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The frustrations of heaven's fragrance: an analysis and translation of Guan Hanqing's Qian dayin zhichong xie tianxiang

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This thesis examines the play Qian Dayin zhichong Xie Tianxiang, written by the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) playwright Guan Hanqing (c.1225-1302). The first chapter of this paper provides brief background information about northern style Yuan drama (zaju) as well as a

This thesis examines the play Qian Dayin zhichong Xie Tianxiang, written by the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) playwright Guan Hanqing (c.1225-1302). The first chapter of this paper provides brief background information about northern style Yuan drama (zaju) as well as a plot summary and notes about the analysis and translation. Through a close reading of the play, I hope to illustrate how the play's complicated ending and lack of complete resolution reveals why it has received relatively little attention from scholars who have previously discussed other strong, intelligent female characters in Guan Hanqing's plays. The second chapter of this thesis includes translation of the play that is comprised of a wedge preceding the four acts. Before each act of the play is a critical introduction and analysis of the act to follow. Although many of Guan Hanqing's plays have been translated into English, this play has never been translated.

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2011

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What does it take to be human?: foreignness in Yuan Mei's Zi buyu

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Yuan Mei 袁枚 (1716-97) is often thought of as a rebellious figure within the eighteenth-century intellectual and literary landscape. His perceived rejection of nearly all aspects of Confucian values was so extreme that he was even dubbed a "sinner against

Yuan Mei 袁枚 (1716-97) is often thought of as a rebellious figure within the eighteenth-century intellectual and literary landscape. His perceived rejection of nearly all aspects of Confucian values was so extreme that he was even dubbed a "sinner against the teachings of Confucius." This thesis examines six stories within Yuan Mei's Zi buyu 子不語 (What Confucius Did Not Talk About) and, through close reading, shows how Yuan Mei utilizes each foreign group's physical traits and their ability to verbally and/or ethically communicate with the Chinese protagonist, in order to reflect their adherence to Confucian values and acceptance of Chinese imperial authority to arrange them along a spectrum of humanness that reflects the Chinese-foreign distinction. Furthermore, by examining each story in their historical and literary contexts, it is discovered that nearly every foreign group portrayed in Zi buyu is based on historical groups that actually existed on the periphery of the Qing empire, and that the different degrees of foreignness of each subject reflect each historical foreign group's acquiescence to or rebellion against the imperial authority of the Qing empire. Contrary to commonly held opinions, Yuan Mei's negotiation of foreignness demonstrates his own deep subscription to Confucian ethics and adherence to imperial order.

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2012

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The problematic nature of Song literati's penchant for xiaohuan

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This thesis examines poems and anecdotes about xiaohuan 小鬟 (little chignon) written by literati of the Song宋 (960-1279). The first chapter of this paper provides a brief history of household courtesans and the popularity of xiaohuan. The second chapter includes

This thesis examines poems and anecdotes about xiaohuan 小鬟 (little chignon) written by literati of the Song宋 (960-1279). The first chapter of this paper provides a brief history of household courtesans and the popularity of xiaohuan. The second chapter includes eleven poems and one anecdote on xiaohuan. All works are translated and followed by a critical analysis. Through a close reading of these works, I will examine the imagery of xiaohuan in the Song literary context, bring to light the major motif of the works, and reveal the reasons that contribute to literati's penchant for xiaohuan. The imagery of xiaohuan is based on their tender age. Poets use flowers to metaphorize xiaohuan's lithe, slim, short, and delicate figures. A major characteristic of the xiaohuan's youth is their inability to understand qing情 (affection) and this relative innocence and absence of desire becomes a major part of their representation. Consequently, their youth and virginity rather than their beauty are strongly stressed in the poems. This may be explained by poets' desire for longevity, pursued through the "Techniques of the Bedchamber," or fangzhong shu房中術, which suggests intercourse with pre-pubescent girls would bring men longevity or even transmutation.

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Date Created
2012

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Reading resonance in Tang tales: allegories and beyond

Description

As many modern scholars have warned, the complexity of Tang narratives is far

beyond the reach of Lu Xun’s twentieth-century generic labels. Therefore, we should have

an acute awareness of the earlier limiting view of these categorizations, and our research

should transcend the

As many modern scholars have warned, the complexity of Tang narratives is far

beyond the reach of Lu Xun’s twentieth-century generic labels. Therefore, we should have

an acute awareness of the earlier limiting view of these categorizations, and our research

should transcend the limitations of these views in regard to this extensive corpus or to being

confined to rigid and meager reading of the richness of the stories. This dissertation will

use a transdisciplinary methodology that incorporates both history and literature in close

reading of seven Tang tales composed in the mid-to-late Tang eras (780s–early 900s), to

break the boundaries between the two generic labels, chuanqi and zhiguai, and unearth

significant configurations within these literary texts that become apparent only through

stepping across genre.

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2017

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Playing Roles: Literati, Playwrights, and Female Performers in Yuan Theater

Description

This dissertation investigates how Yuan zaju drama reshaped Chinese culture by bridging the gap between an inherently oral tradition of popular performance and the written tradition of literati, when traditional Chinese political, social, cultural structures underwent remarkable transformation under alien

This dissertation investigates how Yuan zaju drama reshaped Chinese culture by bridging the gap between an inherently oral tradition of popular performance and the written tradition of literati, when traditional Chinese political, social, cultural structures underwent remarkable transformation under alien rule in the Yuan. It focuses on texts dated from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century by literati writers about playwrights and performers that have been treated by most scholars merely as sources of bio-bibliographical information. I interpret them, however, as cultural artifacts that reveal how Yuan drama caused a shift in the mentality of the elite. My study demonstrates that Yuan drama stimulated literati thought, redefined literati self-identity, and introduced a new significance to the act of writing and the function of text. Moreover, the emergence of a great number of successful female performers challenged the gendered roles of women that had been standardized by the traditional Confucian patriarchal system. This careful uncovering of overlooked materials contributes to a better understanding of the social and cultural world of early modern China.

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Date Created
2019

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Neither dust nor gold: a comprehensive study of the Dadao School from 1115-1398

Description

During the twelfth century, three new schools of Daoism were founded in North China: Quanzhen (Complete Perfection), Taiyi (Supreme Unity), and Dadao (Great Way). While Quanzhen has received much scholarly attention, the others have been largely ignored. By focusing on

During the twelfth century, three new schools of Daoism were founded in North China: Quanzhen (Complete Perfection), Taiyi (Supreme Unity), and Dadao (Great Way). While Quanzhen has received much scholarly attention, the others have been largely ignored. By focusing on just one school--Dadao--as in depth as possible and within the historical context, I hope to elucidate the flourishing state of Daoism in North China during the twelfth through fourteenth centuries beyond just the activity of the Quanzhen school. To that end, I have amassed sixteen inscriptions and records, as well as reconstructed one inscription previously incomplete, and added them to the eleven inscriptions and records published in the Daojia jinshi lüe and the three pieces of Yuan-dynasty poetry and prose contained in the Nan Song chu Hebei xin Daojiao kao. This has doubled the available source material. Most of these have been previously published individually, but have never been studied in conjunction with the other known Dadao texts. The result is the most comprehensive study of the school in over seventy-five years, in which I also present a new understanding of the school’s founder, how the lineages developed, and the school’s ultimate fate. The portrait of the school which emerges from this dissertation challenges the notion that Dadao was nothing more than a minor variation of the Quanzhen school or is otherwise unworthy of scholarly attention.

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2017

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Silk and Sacrifice: Gender, Death, and Adaptation in Two Chinese Literary Traditions

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This dissertation explores the relationship between expressions of female virtue—predominantly chastity—and violence within two popular early Chinese literary traditions: Qiu Hu 秋胡 and Han Peng 韓朋. Both tales were in circulation by the Western Han (206 BCE–24 CE) and depict

This dissertation explores the relationship between expressions of female virtue—predominantly chastity—and violence within two popular early Chinese literary traditions: Qiu Hu 秋胡 and Han Peng 韓朋. Both tales were in circulation by the Western Han (206 BCE–24 CE) and depict husbands and wives torn apart by conflict—the victims of drama instigated by men—and ultimately end with the righteous suicides of their female leads. Testifying to their enduring popularity, these stories were adapted by poets and prose writers alike, including prominent figures such as Fu Xuan, Yan Yanzhi, Li Shangyin, and Shi Junbao, as well as unknown composers of works discovered at Dunhuang. The results of their labor—poems, prose, and even a Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) stage adaptation—demonstrate the flexibility of these traditions as a means of exploring contemporary concerns regarding female integrity and talent, the dangers of beauty, women’s roles in the family, as well as socio-economic issues. By providing the first study of the portrayal of women within these influential traditions across genre and time, this dissertation not only contributes to the understanding of both tales as elite representations of idealized femininity, but also highlights how such popular traditions were subject to competing pressures of social norms, genre, and audience expectation. By examining and contrasting these disparate works, this study argues that these traditions were less singular tales that owed their existence to any given work than they were a broad collection of topoi that could be shuffled into differing configurations to meet the need of a given author at a given moment.

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2021