P58. Topics in Chinese Literature

Session: Session 8, 8:30-10:00 am, Sunday 10/1

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Illinois Ballroom B

Chair: Ruoyi Bian (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Zhengyuan Wang, Cheng Zeng

The Reincarnation of “Amaryllis”: the Image of Shepherdess in Tang Qi’s early Frontier Sonnet

Speaker: Zhengyuan Wang
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; University of Pennsylvania
Abstract: On arriving in Gansu, Tang Qi 唐祈 (1920-1990) wrote a suite of sonnets, depicting the heterogeneous frontier scenery he had never seen. The image of shepherdess in this suite, on the one hand, amazes the reader with her melancholy complexion. On the other hand, it raises a question about the origin of this image, which seems to have an underlying tradition in Chinese poetry. Nevertheless, far from solid as it appears, the image of shepherdess is more of a late creation after the pastoral and biblical figures of shepherdess were introduced into China during the late Qing and early modern periods. In this process, the image of shepherdess undergoes a series of metamorphoses conducted by intellectuals, including Zhou Zuoren 周作人 and He Qifang 何其芳.  Instead of the very Western version, Tang Qi, thus, relied on a localized adaptation of the image of shepherdess in his poem. Thereupon, Tang Qi further regenerated this incipiently-Sinicized image via mingling it with another lately-imported Western poetic element, namely the form of sonnet. In this regard, the wandering adventure of this image in the case of Tang Qi’s poetry illustrates how new Chinese poetry integrates with global poetic trends. Meanwhile, the twofold marginalized feature of this literary product, both in geography and in literature, provides an alternative way to revisit the poetic façade of the so-called imagined community of multi-ethnics.

Transcending Boundaries: The Relationship between Human and Ghost in Liaozhai

Speaker: Cheng Zeng
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: The University of Chicago
Abstract:  Among many ghost stories in China, Liaozhai written by Pu Songlin constructs a world where both humans and ghosts share the particular variety — each human or ghost has their own vivid individuality. The distinct difference between individual ghosts or between individual humans is widely demonstrated within a single story or between different stories. Across multiple stories in Liaozhai, the human-ghost relationship is marked by this blurred boundary of many aspects. As stories exemplify the relationship above in extreme and unexpected ways, this paper mainly focuses on Nie Xiaoqian, in addition to Painted Skin that will be only supplementarily discussed for comparison, to analyze how individuals of human or ghost in Liaozhai demonstrate the boundary blurred and transcended, specifically of human/ghost individual morality and human-ghost interactive relationships of a variety of aspects. This paper aims to analyze the core characteristics of human-ghost relationship from the following perspectives: (1) the various individuality of humans and ghosts, (2) the interactive relationship between ghosts and humans, and (3) the interchangeable dynamics between humans and ghosts. All of these perspectives present us with the human-ghost relationship marked by individuals of human and ghost transcending blurred boundaries between human and ghost. Further, more than conceptually “transcending”, the three perspectives show that the individuality of moral character leads to the variety of human-ghost interactions and ultimately the fate of individuals: the individual merit dominates the individual life course more than the status of being a human or a ghost.