Banner Image Source Original image held by the Harvard-Yenching Library
of the Harvard College Library, Harvard University

June-December 2019

1 & 2
About the cover

Sin Saimdang 申師任堂 (1504–1551), a Korean painter, poet, and calligrapher, most likely painted Plants and Insects (Ch’och’ungdo 草蟲圖) on this issue’s cover. She may have benefited from being born into a family with five girls and no boys, for her father gave her an unusually thorough education for a girl and encouraged her talents, even to the point of choosing for her a husband who promised to allow her to pursue her painting and other artistic endeavors. Although her art is rightly celebrated, she is best known in Korea today as the mother of Yi I 李珥 (1536–1584), Chosŏn’s most prominent neo-Confucian scholar.

The quintessential “wise mother” (ŏjin ŏmŏni 어진 어머니), Saimdang is often held up as a paragon of traditional Confucian—hence, Korean—motherhood. Although this image is mostly a modern construct, she anticipated it herself by choosing the sobriquet Saim 師任, which recalls Tai Ren 太任, the mother of King Wen 文王 and grandmother of the Duke of Zhou. Koreans today remember Tai Ren as an early practitioner of rigorous “prenatal education” (K. t’aegyo 胎教), which posits a link between an expectant mother’s virtuous thoughts, moods, and actions and the moral character of her unborn child.

Sin Saimdang is literally the most visible Chosŏn woman in Korea today: her likeness is on the 50,000 won banknote. The Bank of Korea elided the question of whether she should best be remembered as an exemplary mother or a great artist by putting detail from another of her paintings of plants and insects on the reverse of the 5,000-won note, which features a portrait of her son on the front. HJAS thanks the Harvard Art Museums for their kind permission to reproduce the image.

Attributed to Sin Saimdang, Plants and Insects, Chosŏn dynasty. Album leaf, ink and color on silk, H. 27.4 cm × W. 20.9 cm. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Louise Haskell Daly Fund and Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane Fund for the Acquisition of Oriental Art, 1994.92. Photo: Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Editorial Preface & In Memoriam


Other Poetry on the An Lushan Rebellion

Notes on Time and Transcendence in Tang Verse

Lucas Rambo Bender

This article examines poetry about the An Lushan rebellion (755–763) written during its course by poets other than Li Bai and Du Fu. Despite the centrality of the rebellion to narratives of Chinese literary history, this corpus of poetry is rarely discussed, in large part because it does not provide the sort of visceral witness to the cataclysm that later readers have expected from verse written in troubled times. Instead, this poetry almost always seeks to transfigure or transcend its historical ground through the invocation of alternate frames by which author and readers come to stand apart from current events. This observation offers us a window onto the relationship between poetic practice during the eighth century and longstanding commentarial ideals about poetry’s relationship to history, as well as a way of recontextualizing Li Bai’s and Du Fu’s innovative poetic responses to the rebellion.

摘要 (中文)


Found (and Lost?) in Translation

Culture in The Analects

Uffe Bergeton

The use of the word culture to render the Old Chinese term wen 文 in English translations of The Analects increased dramatically from one instance in 1861 to 93 percent in a translation from 2003. This development illustrates how historical changes in word meanings and epistemic assumptions profoundly influence modern Western understanding of early Chinese thought. Semantic changes in the English word culture enabled nineteenth-century translators to discover a concept of high culture—culture as a civilization of assumed universal scope—in The Analects. Subsequently, over the course of the twentieth century, the idea that Old Chinese wen means culture became almost universally accepted. However, since the prevalent concept of culture is now the relative, anthropological concept of culture as a way of life, this assumption is potentially leading to misunderstandings and the propagation of problematic culturalist ideas about culture in early China.

摘要 (中文)

自 17 世紀至 21 世紀,《論語》的英譯本將「文」譯為 culture 的比例陡增。 這說明字義和認識觀念的歷史演變,對現代西方理解早期中國思想的影響甚鉅。 19 世紀的譯者把「文」理解為文明,而 20 世紀則普遍理解為文化。因此 culture 的語義演變会導致西方對早期中國形成的「文」這一概念的誤解。

Absent Presence

Costuming and Identity in the Qing Drama A Ten-Thousand Li Reunion

Guojun Wang

During the Ming–Qing transition in mid-seventeenth century China, the Manchu government’s hair and dress regulations engendered a sartorial landscape with different dress codes in different social and theatrical spaces. Theatrical costuming, defined as the appropriation of body and clothing, responded continuously to that changing landscape through the nineteenth century. This article explores those responses through the case of the Qing drama A Ten-Thousand Li Reunion. By synthesizing textual fragments, visual representations, performance records, and clothing history, I suggest that theatrical costuming in Qing drama provided a productive way to associate body, clothing, and individual identities that were constantly in tension with historical changes.

摘要 (中文)

明清易代之際,滿族政府的服飾政策導致現實生活和戲曲演出採用了不同 類型的服飾和髮式。這種變化進而影響了戲曲文本和演出中對身體及服飾的描寫 與使用。通過討論清代戲曲《萬里圓 》,本文揭示了有清一代戲曲裝扮與種族認同 之間的複雜關係。

The Sound of Learning the Confucian Classics in Chosŏn Korea

Si Nae Park

This article explores instantiations of cosmopolitan-vernacular mediation within the sinographic cosmopolis. Placing the publication of the Chosŏn (1392–1910) Vernacularized Classics, published by the Office of Review and Rectification, within the larger context of evolving reading technologies and state Confucianism, this article highlights how the Chosŏn state mobilized orality (utterance) and aurality (hearing) to supply Chosŏn readers with the voice of an imaginary tutor who specializes in vocalization that they could simulate. This standardized vocalization recipe became the representative sound of learning in Chosŏn as the practice of simulating the tutor’s voice became a normalized part of preparing for the civil service examinations. This article shows how the creation of The Vernacularized Classics generated a new erudite linguistic register that shaped the soundscape of Chosŏn society.

초록 (한국어)

본 논문은 사서삼경의 조선판인 경서 언해본의 간행 유포와 페이지 구성을 살피어 경서 언해본이 규범적 음독 독서법을 매개로 한문에 담긴 유교 경전을 자국어화하는 도구로 제작되었고 공동문어를 자국어화 시키는 독서법은 과거제도를 통해 학습과 학문의 독서성으로 자리잡았다고 주장한다.

Informing the Public in Song China

Patricia Buckley Ebrey

Over time, the Song government increasingly communicated with ordinary people through writing, a practice made easier by the growing availability of printing technology. The central government regularly instructed local officials to post notices, and local officials used notices for both routine situations and urgent needs. In addition to surveying the central government’s instructions to local governments to post notices, I examine in more detail the use of notices as a weapon against official corruption during Gaozong’s reign, Zhu Xi’s well-documented use of notices as a local official, and the use of notices to mitigate panic in Kaifeng in 1126–1127 after the Jurchen had gained control of its walls. Looking at government communication via notices suggests that Song officials not only frequently relied on market forces to achieve compliance from ordinary people but also expected that most ordinary people had access to literate elders in their local communities

摘要 (中文)


Review essays

Recent Chinese Literary Histories in English

Haun Saussy

Productive Plagues: Epidemics, Public Health, and the Making of Asia’s Modernity

Ruth Rogaski

Your Place or My Place? A Question from the Margins of the Japanese Empire

Mark Driscoll

Book reviews

The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History by Tonio Andrade

Edward L. Farmer

Teika: The Life and Works of a Medieval Japanese Poet by Paul S. Atkins

Terry Kawashima

Across Forest, Steppe, and Mountain: Environment, Identity, and Empire in Qing China’s Borderlands by David A. Bello, and: A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule by Jonathan Schlesinger

Kenneth Pomeranz

Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature by Brian Bernards

Kien Ket Lim

Translation’s Forgotten History: Russian Literature, Japanese Mediation, and the Formation of Modern Korean Literature by Heekyoung Cho

Kelly Y. Jeong

Chinese Painting and Its Audiences by Craig Clunas

Robert E. Harrist Jr.

The Gathering of Intentions: A History of a Tibetan Tantra by Jacob P. Dalton

Ronald M. Davidson

Transgressive Typologies: Constructions of Gender and Power in Early Tang China by Rebecca Doran

Man Xu

Empire and the Meaning of Religion in Northeast Asia: Manchuria 1900–1945 by Thomas David DuBois, and: War and Geopolitics in Interwar Manchuria: Zhang Zuolin and the Fengtian Clique during the Northern Expedition by Chi Man Kwong

Norman Smith

Plucking Chrysanthemums: Narushima Ryūhoku and Sinitic Literary Traditions in Modern Japan by Matthew Fraleigh

Seth Jacobowitz

Shinto: A History by Helen Hardacre

Mark Teeuwen

Samurai to Soldier: Remaking Military Service in Nineteenth-Century Japan by D. Colin Jaundrill

Oleg Benesch

The Magic of Concepts: History and the Economic in Twentieth-Century China by Rebecca E. Karl

Stephen A. Smith

Itineraries of Power: Texts and Traversals in Heian and Medieval Japan by Terry Kawashima

Linda H. Chance

The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China by Dorothy Ko

Craig Clunas

Li Mengyang, the North-South Divide, and Literati Learning in Ming China by Chang Woei Ong

Bruce Rusk

The Poetry of Du Fu trans. by Stephen Owen, ed. by Stephen Owen, Paul W. Kroll, and Ding Xiang Warner

David McCraw

Singapore: Unlikely Power by John Curtis Perry

S. R. Joey Long

Fabricating the Tenjukoku Shūchō Mandara and Prince Shōtoku’s Afterlives by Chari Pradel

Akiko Walley

A Passage to China: Literature, Loyalism, and Colonial Taiwan by Chien-hsin Tsai

Emma J. Teng

Finding Women in the State: A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1964 by Zheng Wang

Aminda Smith