Experimenting in the Limelight: Li Yu's Cultural Production in Early Qing China


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Chinese Literature


This dissertation pairs a detailed study of the scope and significance of the brand new mode of cultural entrepreneurship of the early Qing literatus, Li Yu (1611-1680), with close analysis of his essays, plays, and short stories. It analyzes how, on paper and in practice, Li Yu explores new possibilities for subjectivity and embodied experience of the early Qing world—new ways of using objects, alternate modes of embodiment, artful manipulations of space, and the power and limits of vision. It contends that these experiments challenge those who encounter them to take account of the actuality of their time, place, and resources, and to envisage alternate possibilities for the material world, social and economic status, and discursive production.