P10. Art, Literature and Identity in Chinese Gardens

Session: Session 2, 1:45-3:15 pm, Friday 9/29

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Graduate Boardroom

Chair: My-Xuan Hillengas (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Yixuan Song, Yuefan (Ivy) Wang

Garden, Identity and Social Networks: Ji Cheng’s “Advertisement” and the Rhetorical Strategies of Yuan Ye

Speaker: Yixuan Song
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: Renmin University of China / Harvard University
Abstract: Ji Cheng’s Yuan Ye 園冶 is considered to be the earliest and most significant manual of landscape gardening in Chinese tradition, originally published in 1634. This article situates the book in the context of print and commercial culture during the late Ming period. Related questions will be raised and examined. What is the intention of writing the book? Who are the target readers? Specifically, how did Ji Cheng negotiate with elite literati and craftsmen? During the Seventeenth Century, how did patrons and garden designers cooperate? Based on an analysis of original texts and his social networks, I argue that the rhetorical strategies Ji Cheng mobilized conveyed his skillful use of literati discourse and construction of self-image as literati.  By leveraging the social function of gardens, the circulation of books, and his interactions with the literati class, he subtly made his writing function as a personal advertisement during the late Ming period, gaining considerable reputation and social prestige. By tracing the book’s social life, from its creation through publication, circulation, and even its hiding and reappearance, the book’s materiality and agency are given significant attention. Unlike previous studies that focus on what the book writes, this paper centers on how the book is organized and woven, which sheds new light on how garden, identity, and social networks interact in early modern China.

Negotiating Gendered Difference in the Visual Space: Women’s Changing Identities in Poetry on Garden Paintings

Speaker: Yuefan (Ivy) Wang
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: UIUC
Abstract: Created according to men’s request or imagination, the generic nature of garden paintings—in particular, paintings of garden sites, garden activities, and female figures with the garden as the background—was a literati men’s gesture for public performance. The late imperial era (1368-1911) welcomed a fast-growing literacy among women, who were traditionally to be secluded in the garden as an extension of private, domestic space. The late-imperial female poets’ active participation in the visual representation of garden-related themes complicated women’s position in the pictorial genre.  This paper examines gentry women’s poetry on paintings (known as tihua shi), particularly those depicting gardens, during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) in China. It explores how gentlewomen transformed their conventional subordinate identities in envisioned garden spaces through their poetic creations on garden paintings. Through three case studies, this paper will show that the female poets shifted from being passive objects to active observers, from secluded writers to fellow students learning from a male teacher, and ultimately became co-constructors of scholar gardens.