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Fiction Reading and Commentaries in Ming/Qing China: Zhang Zhupo's 'Jinpingmei dufa' (How to Read The Plum in the Golden Vase)

UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk by Wei Shang on Zhang Zhupo's “How to Read The Plum in the Golden Vase."

December 4, 2009 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Wei Shang, Chinese Literature, Columbia University
Sophie Volpp, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley, discussant

Focusing on Zhang Zhupo’s “How to Read The Plum in the Golden Vase,” this presentation seeks to examine the traditional Chinese fiction commentary from new perspectives: (1) instead of following Zhang’s dufa as an objective guide for reading The Plum in the Golden Vase or as an indigenous source for the construction of an authentic theory of the Chinese novel, the speaker sees it primarily as an unfinished project of transforming xiaoshuo (fiction) into what is called wenzhang—a broadly defined term that refers to the genres and texts at the center of the Confucian literary tradition; (2) The speaker will also highlight dufa as a genre literarily concerned with “the methods of reading.” Taking reading practice into account in our study of fiction commentary, we will have to move beyond literary criticism, or rather, do literary criticism differently by engaging the history of the book and the history of reading.