Texts on the Civilization of Medieval China: "Words Enough and Time: Languages of Mortality in Medieval Chinese Literary Writing" 234

In this seminar, students will read across a range of genres, examining how writers of the medieval period (Six Dynasties and Tang) imagined and represented time and, especially, man’s place—collectively and individually—in it.  After a brief critical survey of selected scholarship on notions of time in traditional China, we will focus on both explicit and implicit treatments of temporality, memory, and change as found in rhapsodies, poetry, letters, biographies, fiction, historical writings, and anecdotes.  Topics of discussion may include: the relationship between perceptual experience and the understanding of time; the sense(s) of duration, and its verbal manifestation; transcendence as both a theme and a motivation for writing; the personal and communal rhetoric of commemoration; the spatial representation of time in poetry and essays; the role of fate and causality in biographical (and autobiographical) writing; the relationship between narration, desire and prognostication; the use of genre as a mode of historical meditation; and formal manifestations of temporal ideation in different genres of literary writing. Prerequisites: Graduate standing (or permission of the instructor) and good reading knowledge of Classical Chinese.