Writing Empire and Self: Cultural Transformation in Early Medieval China


ACLS Fellowship Program


East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Named Award

ACLS Donald J. Munro Centennial Fellow named award


Exploring the representation of empire and self in fifth- and sixth-century Chinese court literature, this project re-envisions the literary and cultural history of the period by considering how poetry became a potent form of cultural and political capital, enabled the gradual rise of a new cultural elite from medieval aristocratic society, and thus remained a privileged literary genre throughout the history of imperial China. It examines how poetry, long a crucial instrument in articulating and making empire, assumed a new role when empire fell: the most talented practitioners of poetic language used the form to give voice to intense pain and guilt, and provide the exiled survivors with a sense of cultural continuity through the rupture.