[MaFLa] Invitation to the next lecture of 'The Human and the Sciences of Nature: Chinese and Comparative Perspectives' Series

Zsuzsanna Balogh baloghzsphil at gmail.com
Thu Mar 16 11:12:11 CET 2017


Finding Oneself in the City: Nature and Human Subjectivity in the Streets
of Eleventh-Century China

Christian de Pee (University of Michigan)

*Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 5:30pm; CEU - Gellner Room*

*Part of the Human and the Sciences of Nature: Chinese and Comparative
Perspectives Series (Department of Philosophy)*

Event website

During the ninth century, literati residing in the metropolises at Chang’an
and Luoyang made excursions into the countryside to restore a sense of self
in the fields and the hills, away from the noise and dust of urban traffic,
and they built gardens within the city to give material expression to their
individual character. Literati of the eleventh century continued these
practices, but they also discovered nature within crowded streets and busy
avenues, where traffic flowed and ebbed like the tides of the ocean, goods
and money circulated like the vital essences of the body, and trades
flourished and withered with the seasons. Whereas literati of the ninth
century had expressed their individual proclivities through their
relationship with natural landscapes and natural objects, literati of the
eleventh century developed a new, more precise sense of human subjectivity
by their engagement with the city. The anonymous crowds, the natural
patterns of traffic and trade, and the humanlike but unconscious machinery
of locks and watermills caused poets, painters, and philosophers to
objectify the self and to re-appropriate the subject through their
engagement with commodities and the material world.

*Christian de Pee* is an Associate Professor of History at the University
of Michigan, specialized in the history of the Middle Period of Chinese
history (800-1400 CE). His general interest in the relationship between
text, time, space, and self-representation has taken concrete form in a
book about wedding ritual (The Writing of Weddings in Middle-Period China:
Text and Ritual Practice in the Eighth through Fourteenth Centuries, 2007)
and in articles about ritual manuals, archaeology, writing and gender,
historiography, and cities. He is currently completing an intellectual
history of the city in eleventh-century China, entitled Losing the Way in
the City: Urban Space, Subjectivity, and Intellectual Crisis in
Middle-Period China, 800-1100.
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