The Culture of Literary Competence and Tang Bureaucracy


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Collaborative Reading-Workshop Grants


Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication


Cornell University


This workshop brings together a group of scholars of Tang literature and Tang intellectual and institutional history to examine a selection of texts—including literary works, expository writings, letters, memorials, treatises, biographies and anecdotes—that speak to the process of how literary competence came to vie with aristocratic pedigree as a qualification for office and how it ultimately became a viable path for the upwardly mobile during the Tang dynasty. The aim is to glean from these sources indicators of, and insights into, the correlation between the gradual demographic shift in the composition of the Tang bureaucracy and the emergence of a “culture of literary competence” in this period. In pursuing this inquiry, we aim to develop an interdisciplinary framework for understanding not only the emergence of this “culture of literary competence” but its endurance through the Tang and beyond.