Xiaofei Tian F'19

Xiaofei  Tian
Professor
East Asian Language & Civilizations
Harvard University

ACLS Fellowship Program 2019
Professor
East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Harvard University
Writing Empire and Self: Cultural Transformation in Early Medieval China

Exploring the representation of empire and self in fifth- and sixth-century Chinese court literature, this project re-envisions the literary and cultural history of the period by considering how poetry became a potent form of cultural and political capital, enabled the gradual rise of a new cultural elite from medieval aristocratic society, and thus remained a privileged literary genre throughout the history of imperial China. It examines how poetry, long a crucial instrument in articulating and making empire, assumed a new role when empire fell: the most talented practitioners of poetic language used the form to give voice to intense pain and guilt, and provide the exiled survivors with a sense of cultural continuity through the rupture.