Texts on the Civilization of Medieval China: "Traditions of the 'Song Lyric' (ci 詞)" 234

A constellation of banquet song-forms of the Tang came to form, from the 12th century onward, the lyric genre—increasingly practiced as a literary form defined by metrical and stylistic norms, divorced from its musical origins—that we now typically refer to simply as “song lyric,” or ci 詞. The history of this form includes many of the most celebrated works and authors in premodern tradition; the history of the genre’s emergence and of its conceptualization within the world of texts, moreover, affords a series of intriguing reference points for understanding the status of “literature” for premodern writers and audiences, and worlds of performance, both musical and social. In this semester we will read extensively in primary works from the tradition along with relevant traditional critical and musicological sources, and consider a range of approaches to the genre reflected in late imperial and modern scholarship.