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China and Inner Asia
In Session: Constructing Memories: The Making of Song Historical Sources
2: From Communicative Memories to Canonized Historical Accounts: A Study of the Memories of Li Gang and Wang Boyan regarding the Southern Song Restoration
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
This paper explores how the personal memories of two twelfth-century literati elites, Li Gang 李綱 (1083–1140) and Wang Boyan 汪伯彥 (1069–1141), who both served as chief councilors in the late 1120s became canonized in later historical accounts. Why and how did the two men record their memories of their service in the court of Emperor Gaozong? How were their written records circulated in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries? Answers to these questions shed light on the changing perceptions of Southern Song literati of these two men and on the evolution of their images. Why Li lived on as an icon of loyalty and Wang an icon of treachery in cultural memory from the fourteenth century onward, I would argue, owes much to the archival of Wang’s memory and the canonization of Li’s memory that portrayed himself as a victim of Wang’s evil plots.