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Garden Walls and Generic Boundaries: Visualizing Textual Space and Urban Space in the Western Capital Luoyang, China, 960-1127

University of Michigan's Christian de Pee examines the city of Luoyang in the eleventh century.

March 28, 2008 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Reception to follow 
This event is co-sponsored by the East Asian Studies Center, the Department of History, and the Literary, Visual, and Material Culture Initiative, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at USC
During the eleventh century, the city of the Luoyang was the residence of leading statesmen and renowned literati. These men produced inscriptions for local temples and shrines, records of the famous gardens, funerary steles for celebrated officials, commemorative descriptions of social gatherings, and poems about impressions gathered inside and outside the city walls. Despite the amount and variety of literary compositions, it is difficult to gain a sense of the urban space of Luoyang during this period. It is not clear, for example, whether the neighborhood walls of the Tang dynasty (618-907) were still standing, or where the shops and markets were. The texts are especially limited in their description of movement: poets roam within walled gardens and outside the city gates, but not within the cityscape. The horizontality of urban space—the mingling of city-dwellers of all ranks and ages in the streets of Luoyang—is excluded from textual representation. In the surviving texts, streets and walls become generic boundaries that divide the written city into a hierarchy of discursive spaces where movement is restricted. This talk attempts to make this restricted movement visible by means of locations and itineraries traced on maps of Luoyang and surroundings. These maps will aid in reflections on hierarchies of space and time in genres of classical Chinese writing.
Christian de Pee is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Writing of Weddings in Middle-Period China: Text and Ritual Practice in the Eighth through Fourteenth Centuries (SUNY Press, 2007), which presents new ways of reading and writing the imperial Chinese past. His present research examines textual and material representations of power in the Song Empire (960-1279). 
For more information, please contact the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures,USC, (213) 740-3707