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20 books about Song dynasty, 960-1279
Results by Title
20 books about Song dynasty, 960-1279
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press
Just over a thousand years ago, the Song dynasty emerged as the most advanced civilization on earth. Within two centuries, China was home to nearly half of all humankind. In this concise history, we learn why the inventiveness of this era has been favorably compared with the European Renaissance, which in many ways the Song transformation surpassed.
With the chaotic dissolution of the Tang dynasty, the old aristocratic families vanished. A new class of scholar-officials—products of a meritocratic examination system—took up the task of reshaping Chinese tradition by adapting the precepts of Confucianism to a rapidly changing world. Through fiscal reforms, these elites liberalized the economy, eased the tax burden, and put paper money into circulation. Their redesigned capitals buzzed with traders, while the education system offered advancement to talented men of modest means. Their rationalist approach led to inventions in printing, shipbuilding, weaving, ceramics manufacture, mining, and agriculture. With a realist’s eye, they studied the natural world and applied their observations in art and science. And with the souls of diplomats, they chose peace over war with the aggressors on their borders. Yet persistent military threats from these nomadic tribes—which the Chinese scorned as their cultural inferiors—redefined China’s understanding of its place in the world and solidified a sense of what it meant to be Chinese.
The Age of Confucian Rule is an essential introduction to this transformative era. “A scholar should congratulate himself that he has been born in such a time” (Zhao Ruyu, 1194).
Between the sixth and twentieth centuries, the civil service examinations created and maintained political coherence across the Chinese polity. Preparation for the examinations transformed the lives of literate elites by defining educational standards and disseminating a language that determined elite status. However, as participation in the examinations became central to that status, an intense competition to determine the educational curriculum and the subject matter of the examinations erupted between intellectual and political rivals. The principal goal of this book is to explain the restructuring of the examination field during a critical point in its history, the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), which witnessed the increasing domination of the examinations by the Neo-Confucian Learning of the Way movement.
By analyzing textbooks, examination questions and essays, and official and private commentary, Hilde De Weerdt examines how occupational, political, and intellectual groups shaped curricular standards and examination criteria and how examination standards in turn shaped political and intellectual agendas. These questions reframe the debate about the civil service examinations and their place in the imperial order.
Until the Song dynasty, the mountains and rocky gorges of Sichuan were inhabited primarily by forest peoples. Increased settlement by Han Chinese farmers from the rice-growing plains altered the landscape, changed the balance of power among tribes, and adapted Han custom to new conditions. This book describes how the remote Luzhou area of Sichuan became fully integrated into Chinese civilization.
First colonized under private auspices, the region was early dominated by tribal chiefs and local Han magnates with personal armies; but eventually state intervention increased as the military was called in to protect profitable salt wells, Han farming, and the trade routes over which timber, minerals, aromatics, and horses were carried to central markets. Richard von Glahn describes how administrative structures emerged in towns and villages. He argues that policy decisions by the central government and economic imperatives from core regions instigated and determined local development. The book thus provides detailed knowledge of a particular place and has implications for the theoretical study of frontiers.
States are inherently and fundamentally geographical. Sovereignty is based on control of territory. This book uses Song China to explain how a pre-industrial regime organized itself spatially in order to exercise authority. On more than a thousand occasions, the Song court founded, abolished, promoted, demoted, and reordered jurisdictions in an attempt to maximize the effectiveness of limited resources in a climate of shifting priorities, to placate competing constituencies, and to address military and economic crises. Spatial transformations in the Song field administration changed the geography of commerce, taxation, revenue accumulation, warfare, foreign relations, and social organization, and even determined the terms of debates about imperial power.
The chronology of tenth-century imperial consolidation, eleventh-century political reform, and twelfth-century localism traced in this book is a familiar one. But by detailing the relationship between the court and local administration, this book complicates the received paradigm of Song centralization and decentralization. Song frontier policies formed a coherent imperial approach to administering peripheral regions with inaccessible resources and limited infrastructure. And the well-known events of the Song—wars and reforms—were often responses to long-term spatial and demographic change.
What drives literary change? Does literature merely follow shifts in a culture, or does it play a distinctive role in shaping emergent trends? Michael Fuller explores these questions while examining the changes in Chinese shi poetry from the late Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) to the end of the Southern Song (1127–1279), a period of profound social and cultural transformation.
Shi poetry written in response to events was the dominant literary genre in Song dynasty China, serving as a central form through which literati explored meaning in their encounters with the world. By the late Northern Song, however, old models for meaning were proving inadequate, and Daoxue (Neo-Confucianism) provided an increasingly attractive new ground for understanding the self and the world. Drifting among Rivers and Lakes traces the intertwining of the practice of poetry, writings on poetics, and the debates about Daoxue that led to the cultural synthesis of the final years of the Southern Song and set the pattern for Chinese society for the next six centuries. Examining the writings of major poets and Confucian thinkers of the period, Fuller discovers the slow evolution of a complementarity between poetry and Daoxue in which neither discourse was self-sufficient.
China was the most advanced country in the world when Huizong ascended the throne in 1100 CE. In his eventful twenty-six-year reign, the artistically gifted emperor guided the Song Dynasty toward cultural greatness. Yet Huizong would be known to posterity as a political failure who lost the throne to Jurchen invaders and died their prisoner. The first comprehensive English-language biography of this important monarch, Emperor Huizong is a nuanced portrait that corrects the prevailing view of Huizong as decadent and negligent. Patricia Ebrey recasts him as a ruler genuinely ambitious--if too much so--in pursuing glory for his flourishing realm.
After a rocky start trying to overcome political animosities at court, Huizong turned his attention to the good he could do. He greatly expanded the court's charitable ventures, founding schools, hospitals, orphanages, and paupers' cemeteries. An accomplished artist, he surrounded himself with outstanding poets, painters, and musicians and built palaces, temples, and gardens of unsurpassed splendor. What is often overlooked, Ebrey points out, is the importance of religious Daoism in Huizong's understanding of his role. He treated Daoist spiritual masters with great deference, wrote scriptural commentaries, and urged his subjects to adopt his beliefs and practices. This devotion to the Daoist vision of sacred kingship eventually alienated the Confucian mainstream and compromised his ability to govern.
Readers will welcome this lively biography, which adds new dimensions to our understanding of a passionate and paradoxical ruler who, so many centuries later, continues to inspire both admiration and disapproval.
The occupation of the northern half of the Chinese territories in the 1120s brought about a transformation in political communication in the south that had lasting implications for imperial Chinese history. By the late eleventh century, the Song court no longer dominated the production of information about itself and its territories. Song literati gradually consolidated their position as producers, users, and discussants of court gazettes, official records, archival compilations, dynastic histories, military geographies, and maps. This development altered the relationship between court and literati in political communication for the remainder of the imperial period. Based on a close reading of reader responses to official records and derivatives and on a mapping of literati networks, the author further proposes that the twelfth-century geopolitical crisis resulted in a lasting literati preference for imperial restoration and unified rule.
Hilde De Weerdt makes an important intervention in cultural and intellectual history by examining censorship and publicity together. In addition, she reorients the debate about the social transformation and local turn of imperial Chinese elites by treating the formation of localist strategies and empire-focused political identities as parallel rather than opposite trends.
“Song Lyric,” ci, remains one of the most loved forms of Chinese poetry. From the early eleventh century through the first quarter of the twelfth century, song lyric evolved from an impromptu contribution in a performance practice to a full literary genre, in which the text might be read more often than performed. Young women singers, either indentured or private entrepreneurs, were at the heart of song practice throughout the period; the authors of the lyrics were notionally mostly male. A strange gender dynamic arose, in which men often wrote in the voice of a woman and her imagined feelings, then appropriated that sensibility for themselves.
As an essential part of becoming literature, a history was constructed for the new genre. At the same time the genre claimed a new set of aesthetic values to radically distinguish it from older “Classical Poetry,” shi. In a world that was either pragmatic or moralizing (or both), song lyric was a discourse of sensibility, which literally gave a beautiful voice to everything that seemed increasingly to be disappearing in the new Song dynasty world of righteousness and public advancement.
The Chinese garden has been explored from a variety of angles. Much has been written about its structural features as well as its cosmological, religious, philosophical, moral, aesthetic, and economic underpinnings. This book deals with the poetic configurations of the private garden in cities from the ninth to the eleventh century in relation to the development of the private sphere in Chinese literati culture. It focuses on the ways in which the new values and rhetoric associated with gardens and the objects found in them helped shape the processes of self-cultivation and self-imaging among the literati, as they searched for alternatives to conventional values at a time when traditional political, moral, and aesthetic norms were increasingly judged inapplicable or inadequate.
The garden was also an artifact and a locus for material culture and social competition. Focusing on a series of anecdotes about private transactions involving objects in gardens, the author dissects the intricate nexus between the exchange of poetry and the poetry of exchange. In tracing the development of the private urban garden through the writings of Bai Juyi, Su Shi, Sima Guang, and their contemporaries, the author argues that this private space figured increasingly as a place of disengagement for those out of political power and hence was increasingly invaded by political forces.
The intense piety of late T'ang essays on Buddhism by literati has helped earn the T'ang its title of the "golden age of Chinese Buddhism." In contrast, the Sung is often seen as an age in which the literati distanced themselves from Buddhism. This study of Sung devotional texts shows, however, that many literati participated in intra-Buddhist debates. Others were drawn to Buddhism because of its power, which found expression and reinforcement in its ties with the state. For some, monasteries were extravagant houses of worship that reflected the corruption of the age; for others, the sacrifice and industry demanded by such projects were exemplars worthy of emulation. Finally, Buddhist temples could evoke highly personal feelings of filial piety and nostalgia.
This book demonstrates that representations of Buddhism by lay people underwent a major change during the T'ang-Sung transition. These changes built on basic transformations within the Buddhist and classicist traditions and sometimes resulted in the use of Buddhism and Buddhist temples as frames of reference to evaluate aspects of lay society. Buddhism, far from being pushed to the margins of Chinese culture, became even more a part of everyday elite Chinese life.
The realignment of the Chinese social order that took place over the course of the Sung dynasty set the pattern for Chinese society throughout most of the later imperial era. This study examines that realignment from the perspective of specific Sung families, using data on two groups of Sung elites--the grand councilors who led the bureaucracy and locally prominent gentlemen in Wu-chou (in modern Chekiang).
By analyzing kinship relationships, Beverly Bossler demonstrates the importance of family relations to the establishment and perpetuation of social status locally and in the capital. She shows how social position was measured and acted upon, how status shaped personal relationships (and vice versa), and how both status and personal relationships conditioned—and were conditioned by—political success. Finally, in a contribution to the ongoing discussion of localism in the Sung, Bossler details the varied networks that connected the local elite to the capital and elsewhere.
The Northern Song (960–1126) was one of the most transformative periods in Chinese literary history, characterized by the emergence of printing and an ensuing proliferation of books. The poet Huang Tingjian (1045–1105), writing at the height of this period, both defined and was defined by these changes. The first focused study on the cultural consequences of printing in Northern Song China, this book examines how the nascent print culture shaped the poetic theory and practice of Huang Tingjian and the Jiangxi School of Poetry he founded.
Author Yugen Wang argues that at the core of Huang and the Jiangxi School’s search for poetic methods was their desire to find a new way of reading and writing that could effectively address the changed literary landscape of the eleventh century. Wang chronicles the historical and cultural negotiation Huang and his colleagues were conducting as they responded to the new book culture, and opens new ground for investigating the literary interpretive and hermeneutical effects of printing. This book should be of interest not only to scholars and readers of classical Chinese poetry but to anyone concerned with how the material interacts with the intellectual and how technology has influenced our conception and practice of reading and writing throughout history.
A poetic culture consists of a body of shared values and conventions that shape the composition and interpretation of poetry in a given historical period. This book on Wang Anshi (1021–1086) and Song poetic culture—the first of its kind in any Western language—brings into focus a cluster of issues that are central to the understanding of both the poet and his cultural milieu. These issues include the motivations and consequences of poetic contrarianism and the pursuit of novelty, the relationship between anthology compilation and canon formation, the entanglement of poetry with partisan politics, Buddhist orientations in poetic language, and the development of the notion of late style.
Though diverse in nature and scope, the issues all bear the stamp of the period as well as Wang Anshi’s distinct personality. Conceived of largely as a series of case studies, the book’s individual chapters may be read independently of each other, but together they form a varied, if only partial, mosaic of Wang Anshi’s work and its critical reception in the larger context of Song poetic culture.
Richard Davis has expertly crafted a stirring narrative of the last years of Song, focusing on loyalist resistance to Mongol domination as more than just a political event. Davis convincingly argues that Song martyrs were dying for more than dynasty alone: martyrdom can be linked to other powerfully compelling symbols as well. Seen from the perspective of the conquered, the phenomenon of martyrdom reveals much about the cultural history of the Song.
Davis challenges the traditional view of Song martyrdom as a simple expression of political duty by examining the phenomenon instead from the perspective of material life and masculine identity. He also explores the tensions between the outer court of militant radicals and an inner court run by female regents--tensions that reflect the broader split between factions of Song government as well as societal conflict. Davis reveals the true magnitude of the loyalist phenomenon in this beautifully written, fascinating study of Song political loyalty and cultural values.
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press