P7. Qing History and Society

Session: Session 1, 12:00-1:30 pm, Friday 9/29

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Quad

Chair: Xinge Zhang (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Patrick Zhanqiu Du, Rhonda Ran Huo


Orthodoxy or Heterodoxy: the Debates On the Wenchang Cult in Late Imperial China

Speaker: Patrick Zhanqiu Du
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: UIUC
Abstract: This paper examines the debates on the orthodoxy of the Wenchang cult in late imperial China. The cult was introduced into the official sacrifice system in the Jiaqing period (1796-1821). However, many Confucian scholars denounced it as heterodox teaching before that. The God of Literature and Examinations gradually penetrated the jurisdiction of Confucius and became an indispensable part of the official school in late imperial China.  Some literati-officials pointed out the threat it imposed to orthodox Confucianism. They launched an unprecedented attack on the questionable legitimacy of the cult while others tried to defend it. This paper will focus on a literati-official Cai Yanhuang, a major dissenter of the cult in the Kangxi. He filed a lawsuit against Wenchang to denounce its heterodoxy and proposed to remove the cult. I will examine the arguments that Cai and his predecessors made to question Wenchang’s legitimacy. I will also study Peng Dingqiu (1645-1719), another Confucian scholar in the Kangxi period. He and his family were devout believers of the God of Literature and Examinations and were famous for their continuous success in the civil service examination. By explaining how both sides resorted to different resources and strategies to superscribe their own versions of the cult,  I argue that the Wenchang cult became an arena where literati-officials competed for influence in late imperial China.

Imperial Project and Individual Research: Studies of Mongolian History in Early to High Qing

Speaker: Rhonda Ran Huo
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: UIUC
Abstract: My paper “Imperial Project and Individual Research: Studies of Mongolian History in Early to High Qing” will analyze Shao Yuanping 邵遠平 (1664’s Metropolitan Graduate) and Qian Daxin 錢大昕 (1728-1804)’s research of Mongolian history. Shao was a Hanlin bachelor and had learned Manchu in the Hanlin academy. He was also the editor of Kangxi’s version of Comprehensive Geography of the Great Qing Dynasty 大清一統志. After retiring from the government, he wrote Compile of History of Yuan元史類編. Similarly, Qian was also a Hanlin bachelor and the editor of Qianlong’s version of Comprehensive Geography of the Great Qing Dynasty and Geography of Rehe熱河志. Qian had much research on Mongolian history and had learned Manchu and Mongolian languages.  This paper will investigate how Shao and Qian’s service in the court’s imperial publications of history and geography helped them master their language ability and develop interests in Mongolian history. Many former studies on Qing philology mainly focused on scholars’ individual interests rather than the Qing court’s influence. For example, Benjamin Elman studied the institutionalization and professionalization of evidential scholarship. Ori Sela analyzed evidential studies’ scholars’ identity and their scientific research. Kent Guy investigated how scholars cooperated with the court to consolidate their philological movement. Building upon Kent Guy’s argument, I will analyze Shao and Qian’s positions as editors of the imperial projects and how the imperial discourse of Mongolian history influenced their personal research.