Six Dynasties Material Culture, Arts, Literature, and Ritual

WORKSHOP–Six Dynasties Material Culture, Arts, Literature, and Ritual

Organized by the Center for the Art of East Asia, Department of Art History, University of Chicago
Location:  The Franke Institute for the Humanities, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago IL 60637
Dates: May 26-27, 2012

The Six Dynasties Period (220-589) witnessed long-standing and widespread political fragmentation. Regimes were mostly short-lived; violence marred public order; many talented literati shunned office. For much of the era, pastoral nomads who had their origins in the northern steppes governed the Yellow River Plain, the cradle of Chinese civilization, while elite Chinese families in unprecedented numbers moved to the malarial south.  There they were met by hostile natives and recent migrant elite Chinese families who did not appreciate being replaced by émigré families. Despite these tumultuous circumstances, the arts flourished as never before: lyric poetry reached new heights, calligraphy became an art form in itself, paintings by individuals known as artists are recorded, and stone statuary became a major art form. At the same time, even though ritual and material life maintained strong continuities with the past, they became enriched and invigorated by the amalgamation of both steppe and Chinese influences.

Nearly thirty years ago, Denis Twitchett attempted to craft a volume of the Cambridge History of China that would cover this seminal period of division between the mighty Han and Tang empires; however, due to the fact that there were not enough specialists in this field, the volume failed to materialize. The art and visual culture of this period was the focus of the three-year “Between the Han and Tang” project organized by Wu Hung and Katherine Tsiang (1999-2001). However, the scholarship on this period as a whole has been fragmented and has not fully recognized its transformative importance for Chinese history. To fill the gap, Albert Dien, Professor Emeritus of Asian Languages at Stanford University and Keith Knapp, Professor and Chair of the History Department at The Citadel, are working together to create the Cambridge History of China: Volume Two, The Six Dynasties.

Recent archeological activity in China and increased scholarship in this period of China is increasing our understanding of this period as a whole. A cluster of related topics from the volume are represented in the planned workshop at the University of Chicago: literature, art, music, popular culture, and Confucian philosophy and its extension into intellectual activity and state ritual. This is the first meeting of authors to share their research and discuss their topics in the context of the larger volume. It also provides a rare opportunity for the academic community in the Chicago area to participate.


Saturday, May 26
9:00-9:15 am Opening remarks, Albert Dien, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
9:15-12:30 Panel 1, Literature and Music
David Knechtges, University of Washington.  World of Letters
Cynthia Chennault, University of Florida.  Poetry and Individualism
Bo Lawergren, Hunter College, CUNY.  Music

2:00- 4:45 Panel 2, Ritual
Ian Chapman, University of Alabama.  Rituals and Festivals
Kan Huai-chen, National Taiwan University.  Rulers and State Ritual
Keith Knapp, The Citadel.  Confucian Learning and Its Influence

Sunday, May 27
9:00-12:30 Panel 3, Archaeology, Art, and Material Culture
Shing Mueller, Universität München.  Material Culture, North
Annette Kieser, Westfälische-Universität, Münster.  Material Culture, South
Wu Hung, University of Chicago.  Art and Visual Culture

By , May 10, 2012 12:49 pm

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