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12/06/2017 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

NYU Shanghai Lecture: From Scripture to Literature

The Culture of Travel and the Making of Early Medieval Chinese Societies

Zhao Lu

From the first century BCE to the second century CE, China experienced a wax and wane of zeal for the so-called “Confucian” Classics. For example, in 72 CE, the court sacrificed to Confucius and his seventy-two disciples. But by 165 CE, the sacrifice was to Laozi 老子, supposedly a Daoist figure. While Yang Xiong 揚雄 (53 BCE–18 CE) believed that rhapsody writing was a minor and childish skill compared to classicism, Cao Pi 曹丕 (187–226 CE) two hundred years later claimed that literary writing was a grand, everlasting accomplishment, as opposed to the narrow-minded practice of interpreting the classics. What caused these seemingly opposite phenomena and attitudes, and was there any underlying relationship between them? This talk will explore how in the first two centuries CE China, classicism encouraged people to travel and in turn shaped their social relationships, material lives, and certain intellectual trends such as erudite learning and literary writing.
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