China and Inner Asia
This panel explores the political, intellectual, literary, and historiographical transitions that occurred as China was reunited after several centuries of division. Our title is deliberately provocative, echoing the numerous works that have located the revolutions separating medieval and early modern China in what is often called the Tang–Song Transition, from the ninth century through the twelfth. While our papers do not suggest that the “real” transition should be located earlier, we hope to query whether other inflection points can be identified, and how our choice of “transitions” determines the focus of our attention. The Sui (581–618) and early Tang (7th and 8th centuries), for instance, have often been grouped with the Period of Division (220–589) as part of the medieval world. Yet the establishment of these unified dynasties was accompanied both by administrative and social reconfigurations, and by innovative works of Classical scholarship, historiography, and literary writing that would pave the way for new understandings of history, of the role of intellectuals within the polity, and of the nature of the cosmos itself. We seek to inquire, therefore, whether focusing on what changed in this period can provide new insights into the long-term progress of Chinese history, and challenge accounts of that history that depict sharp divisions between relatively stable eras.
Paper Presenter: Lucas R. Bender – Yale University
Paper Presenter: Xiaojing Miao – University of Colorado, Boulder
Paper Presenter: Lu Kou – Bard College
Paper Presenter: Anthony DeBlasi – University at Albany, SUNY