Session Abstract: Furthering recent inquiries on the geographical, infrastructural, and literary construction of space, this panel brings together a variety of perspectives to explore how different cultural projects conditioned and transformed physical space in Song China. Instead of demarcating places as independent, static entities, this panel explores space and place in light of human creativity and dynamic cultural experience. Accordingly, we revisit the continuous reconfiguration of meaning through perceptual and conceptual schemes by which literati of the eleventh through fourteenth centuries related themselves to the worlds they inhabited.
In particular, Zhang investigates the literary furnishing of some landmark buildings in the prefectural office compound and its role in reorienting and recreating administrative spaces in eleventh-century Xiangzhou; Moser studies how urbanization fostered a new painting style that sought to create an embodied viewership through an examination of the famous Along the River on the Qingming Festival; Mi explores aesthetic preferences in poetry quotations in twelfth and thirteenth-century gazetteers to demonstrate the discursive tensions between different locales and the state; Li studies how literati engagement with the rituals of inner alchemy demystified Daoist sacred landscape and transformed it into a therapeutic space.
Collectively, the papers aim to deepen scholarly understanding of the role cultural space played in the generation of experience, the ways in which aesthetic space extended and contested physical place, and the processes whereby a perspectival vision of a place formed communal history through the creation of a spatial order.