- Harvard University
The end of the Ming Dynasty: pleasures, passions, and national trauma in late Imperial China
The Paradoxes of Things: Life and Art in Late Imperial China
How does one turn life into art? What does this idea promise? What are its dangers? The period spanning the late sixteenth to late seventeenth century in China, late Ming to early Qing, is a particularly fruitful period for considering these questions because of its rich sources on material culture and its interest in recording the perception and experience of things. The fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644 brings into sharp focus the paradoxical concerns underlying the discourses on things. How can things be both external and internal? How can their meanings be both social and idiosyncratic? Why is “the real thing” an elusive or expendable ideal? How can one own what is irrevocably lost? How can the world of things be transformed into the space of refuge or resistance? This book explores whether and how a new discourse on things marks a turning point in Chinese history and literature.