Living up to one's words: Prose style, social practice, and the category of the "literary" in nineteenth-century China


ACLS Fellowship Program


Modern Languages

Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


Early nineteenth-century China saw a heightened concern with the literariness of texts, from debates between well-known elite scholars over the proper social role of literary aesthetics to new efforts at the local level to collect "immoral" texts and burn them. This project will analyze the dynamics of interaction between theories of literature and practices dealing with written texts, and examine the relationship between literary style and political activism. Conventional assessments of pre-modern literary prose hold that its aesthetic qualities were understood as subordinate to the morality that it conveyed; that it was primarily didactic and instrumental in nature. My aim in this project is to rethink these assessments from a theoretically-informed and interdisciplinary perspective.