Papers on Premodern Literature I

Emotions
Tuesday
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room D

  • Marcin Jacoby, “The Subtle Power of the Narrative. Strategies of Persuasion in the Lüshi chunqiu
  • Chi-Chu Ho, “Express the Self-Emotions under the Illness Description from Li Shangyin”
  • Tianjun Chen, “Survival, Tradition, Emotion—Exploring the Yuan Literati Group through the Story of Shuangjian and Suqing”
  • Giovanna Tsz Wing Wu, “Ending with the Disillusionment of Love: The Philosophy of Life in Tang Xianzu’s Eight-legged Essay and the Virtual Lives in The Legend of Purple Flute

Marcin Jacoby, “The Subtle Power of the Narrative. Strategies of Persuasion in the Lüshi chunqiu

Lüshi chunqiu (LSCQ) is a fascinating text bringing together various concepts of political leadership of the Warring States Period, which has only recently attracted more interest of Western scholars. The proposed paper concentrates on the analysis of persuasion strategies employed by the authors of the LSCQ from the point of view of literature studies. Different sections of the LSCQ in the “Views” and “Commentaries” parts are composed typically of a brief topic presentation, several historical exemplae and two to three narratives, mostly historical anecdotes, which illustrate the point presented in section title and the opening topic presentation. These anecdotes are used as tools of persuasion, in a very similar way as various narratives (anecdotes, parables, and fables) in the Zhuangzi, Han Feizi, or the Zhanguo ce. I argue that these historical anecdotes are often employed in the LSCQ as tools of indirect persuasion, and in this allegorical function can be compared to the use of parables in the Zhuangzi, a topic much better researched by scholars in China and in the West. Basing on the analysis of the LSCQ, I propose to depart from the understanding of the narrative in the Warring States Period literature in its anecdotal function, and concentrate on its persuasive, and often allegorical function instead.

Tianjun Chen, “Survival, Tradition, Emotion—Exploring the Yuan Literati Group through the Story of Shuangjian and Suqing”

This paper explores the Yuan literati group through analyzing their reception of Shuangjian and Suqing’s story as a stored allusion and a part of dramatic repertoire. The story has no stable version and the variation is built in the Yuan literati writers’ different way of narrating, appropriating and interpreting it. I will restore the major narrative systems of it, and analyze why literati writers choose one over another. Moreover, it is usually categorized into scholar-courtesan romance. Different from the traditional scholarship that described scholar-courtesan-merchant complex as a response to the uprising monetary power, I bring it back to shi bu yu (Scholar’s frustration) trope in poetic tradition. Some writers’ inherited the representation of poetic shi bu yu; yet others appropriated the tradition to incorporate with the contemporary aesthetic taste. By outlining the writers’ approach to the story, I explore their attitude towards qing (affection) and yu (desire). Neo-Confucianism of Song dynasty, represented by Zhu Xi, derogated qing and yu. They insisted that qing should be controlled and yu should be repressed. But in Shuangjian and Suqing’s case, the yu combined with qing and the qing based on yu are valorised to possess therapeutic function in the Yuan, which is a distinctive response to the Neo-Confucianism opinion. Through a historical, text-based, and evident study on the story, my paper presents the Yuan literati group in the aspects of moral and aesthetic belief, as well their relation to the past, particularly their association with the literary and philosophical tradition.

Chi-Chu Ho, “Express the Self-Emotions under the Illness Description from Li Shangyin”

Being sick is a good way of dissimulation in both career and literature. Li Shangyin (812–858) hid the true name and symptom of illness but revealed scholars image of the loneliness and solitary fortitude of emotions in his writings of illness. Li is one of the most famous poet in the History of Emotions in China, due to he is a representative of Tang Dynasty Literature with excellent writing strategies and graceful lyric poems to indicate the true self-emotions.
The characteristics of writing of illness, which are self-emotion expression and ambiguity language, have been found in the illness poems of Li Shangyin. The real emotions of illness in his poems are all meaningful arrangements to reveal the real scenes of life for readers. As comparison with Susan Sontag, the author of Illness as Metaphor AIDS and its Metaphors, she considered the illness was polluted by metaphors. Therefore, getting rid of the illness metaphors, which contains varieties of dark side facts of the society, is necessary. In contrast, the Chinese poets desired to adopt the allusions and metaphors to conceal with real illness. Li created the model of self-presentation to reveal the true emotions in euphemism by using the patient identity and the ambiguity of illness language. Especially, Li indicated the allusions from “Sima Xiangru 司馬相如 got Dispersion-Thirst illness” and Liu Jhen 劉楨 sickly lay” to present how he bear the suffering procedure of his career.

Giovanna Tsz Wing Wu, “Ending with the Disillusionment of Love: The Philosophy of Life in Tang Xianzu’s Eight-legged Essay and the Virtual Lives in The Legend of Purple Flute

Tang Xianzu’s eight-legged essays and chuanqi operas are two essentials for studying his thoughts, yet the value of his essays has long been underestimated. “To speak for the sages” is the aim of composing eight-legged essays. Tang was trained as an essayist since his early years, so he became used to thinking in the way of Confucian sages. To fill the loopholes in former Confucian philosophers’ interpretations, Tang often introduced Buddhist and Daoist thoughts into his eight-legged essays. Dialogues between different thoughts provided him with chances to expound upon his philosophy of life. Tang’s contemporaries often criticized that the thoughts embedded in his eight-legged essays were not pure. These criticisms, based on the Cheng-Zhu school, reveal that Tang’s thoughts contradicted the Confucian orthodoxy. On top of this, do these criticisms inspire today’s study of Tang? Eight-legged essays have spotlighted the path through the world of Tang’s early thoughts. If the writing of the eight-legged essay provided Tang with space to re-think the meaning of life, then the chuanqi opera should be considered the field in which he put his thoughts into practice. This paper will focus on Tang’s eight-legged essays and his first opera, The Legend of Purple Flute. By comparing the rational thinking found in his eight-legged essays to the sentimental “practices” found in his opera, this paper re-interprets Tang’s thought during his early years and re-accounts for the value of The Legend of Purple Flute.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room D
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Emotions