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Lin Shaoyang

Studies in recent decades conducted from the angle of provincial-level local self-government have done much to help relativize narratives of the 1911 Revolution in China that emphasize the importance of armed uprisings. However, these endeavors still have room to locate the revolution within a global context and to understand its implications as a revolution conducted through the conduits of culture and thought. More importantly, these existing studies are also insufficient in terms of viewing the Late Qing Revolution through a longer time span to see the Revolution as the new development and continuity of a much longer revolution that began with the Taiping Rebellion (1851–64). The Taiping Rebellion substantially weakened the rule of the Qing court. In other words, this author regards the Late Qing Revolution as a part of the long revolution starting from the outbreak of the Taiping Rebellion. Through this analysis, the author demonstrates how the Late Qing Revolution was comprised of three key components: armed uprisings, self-government movements, and finally, a revolution through words and culture including the student movements at home and in Tokyo. It argues that, to a certain degree, it is the Taiping Rebellion that made the Revolution successful in a relatively pacifistic way, and that, in particular, made possible the non-violent revolutions of self-government and the revolution through words and culture.

Fu Zheng

When discussing the trans-formative shifts having occurred in the field of Chinese modern history following the economic reforms, one cannot avoid mention of the “revolutionary history paradigm,” the “paradigm of modernization” as well as the “postmodern paradigm.” According to popular belief, the course of development taken by the academic world during the past forty years was marked by a series of transformations: First was the progressive replacement of the “revolutionary history paradigm” by that of the “paradigm of modernization”; following that was the rise of the “postmodern paradigm” and the challenging of its predecessor. This set of divisions, though logically clear and succinct, cannot possibly conform to the realities of history in all of its complexness. While academic circles in the 1980’s were largely concerned with the issues of “what exactly is the historical driving force of Marxism” and “who are the revolutionary class,” the notion of the “paradigm of modernization” was rather a product of the conservative historical viewpoint and its rise during the late 1990’s. In this sense, then, the latter cannot possibly embody the former. On the surface of things, though the “postmodern paradigm” appears to refuse the narrative of revolutionary history, it in fact shares deeper connections with Chinese revolutionary thought at its roots. In short, then, these trans-formative shifts in modern Chinese history are not a simple “exchange” whereby one paradigm transfers into the next, but are rather a process of incessant and interconnected change.

En Li

This article examines the process whereby Qu Dajun (1630–96), a seventeenth-century writer, became canonized as one of the national poets of nineteenth-century China. Qu Dajun was moderately popular during the early Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty (1644–1911) among his friendship network because of his loyalty to the Ming (1368–1644), the last Han-Chinese dynasty. It was only in the eighteenth century under the Qing court’s censorship that Qu became an anti-Manchu symbol among local activists. This article explores different receptions of Qu’s writings in the court and society from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century, especially during the “literary inquisition” in the eighteenth century and the rare book collecting cult that arose in local society afterwards, the enthusiasm for local writings in the nineteenth century, and the nation-wide “Classical Learning” (guoxue) in the early twentieth century. By rediscovering the critical roles played by local book collectors in preserving knowledge, this article contributes to new understanding of power and the fluidity and resilience of local discourse in late imperial China.

Christopher Eirkson

This article discusses how the Mongol Yuan dynasty served as a model of empire-building for the rulers of the early Ming dynasty. It argues that early Ming emperors and statesmen imagined the Ming empire as a Yuan successor state, and endeavoured to match the Yuan’s territorial extent and encompass the steppe region. By comparing imperial maps from the eleventh through fifteenth centuries, this article demonstrates that early Ming depictions of empire more closely match those of the Mongol Empire than those of its “Confucian” predecessor, the Song dynasty. Ming rulers’ judgments of history further reflect the full incorporation of the Yuan dynasty into China’s imperial past, and those judgements referenced the Yuan for examples of successful and unsuccessful policy while circumventing its foreign Mongol origins. Thus, Mongol-style martial values and imperial ambitions maintained a core place in Ming strategic and intellectual thought through the first eighty years of Ming rule.

Paolo Santangelo

The article aims to rethink the pluralistic intellectual currents and social changes of the last centuries in China: How literati reacted to the historical changes, the economic developments, the collapse of the hierarchical order, and the social mobility from the end of the Ming to the middle of the Qing dynasty. Urbanisation, the great silver inflow, the acceleration of trade, and social mobility raised new challenges to the orthodox view of the world and to Neo-Confucian norms. These new attitudes of the Chinese literati—which can be inferred both from literary and philosophical works—uncover new attitudes in the mental structure of the intellectual strata of the time. In the history of ideas we notice a progressive detachment from the orthodox view of the conflictual relationship between principle and desires, especially in the ambit of the Taizhou school. The elaboration of a new anthropological mindset aimed at the rehabilitation of passions and desires culminated with Li Zhi. This trend went on in the Qing period, from Wang Fuzhi to Dai Zhen. In literature, a similar trend, the so-called “cult of qing,” can be found with the moral justification of emotion-desire (establishing emotion as a genuine and active source of virtue), and with the vitalistic identification of emotions as the source of life and reproduction. Another indication of change is the challenge of common and accepted truisms through the praise of “folly” in real life situations and literary works: To be “crazy” and “foolish” became a sign of distinction among certain intellectual circles, in contrast with the pedant orthodox scholars and officials and the vulgar nouveaux riches. The unconventional character of the anti-hero Baoyu is emblematic, with his aversion for any kind of official ceremony and convention, his abnormal sensibility and impractical and naïve mentality, and his consciousness of being different from others. The crisis of the established ladder of values can be seen in the exaltation of “amoral” wisdom and in the presentation of various dimensions of love, from the idealistic sentiment of “the talented student and the beautiful girl” to the metaphysical passion that overcomes death, and to the minimalist concept of “love is like food” in a carpe diem perspective. And finally another challenge is exemplified by Yuan Mei’s reflections on the concept of Heavenly Mandate, retribution, human responsibility, and historical constructions by resorting to “abnormal” phenomena to uncover the absurdity of reality and unconscious imagery. His questions testify the polyphonic debates of the late imperial China, besides established conventions and Neo-Confucian orthodoxy.