AAS Annual Meeting

China and Inner Asia Session 757

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Session 757: Roundtable: What Happens in (and to) Shi Poetry After the Song?

Organizer: Daniel J. Bryant, University of Victoria, Canada

Discussants: Kang-I S. Chang, Yale University, USA; Richard J. Lynn, University of Toronto, Canada; Daniel J. Bryant, University of Victoria, Canada; Jon Eugene von Kowallis, University of New South Wales, Australia; Tsung-Cheng Lin, University of Victoria, Canada; Stephen H. West, Arizona State University, USA

Chinese Poetry written after the Song Dynasty has been relatively little studied in the twentieth century, largely because of the influence of May Fourth Generation of literary historiography, which directed attention toward vernacular traditions instead. Only in recent years have scholars begun to investigate more intensively the enormous corpus of shi written during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, as well as down to the present day. This work suggests that the received account of Chinese literary history is due for significant revision. Among the issues to have emerged are the nature and role of ‘archaist’ and ‘anti-archaist’ schools, the mutual influence of vernacular and classical traditions, and above all the reasons for the sheer persistence and vitality of the shi tradition under conditions that would seem hostile to it, including non-Han rule in the Yuan and Qing, the dropping of poetic composition from the civil examination curriculum during the Ming and early Qing, the popularity of vernacular fiction and drama throughout the period, and of course the Literary Revolution and the overwhelming influence of the vernacular language at all levels of Chinese society in the twentieth century.