• Networks of Exchange Poetry in Late Medieval China: Notes toward a Dynamic History of Tang Literature

    Thomas Mazanec (see profile)
    Digital Humanities East Asia, LLC East Asian, TC Digital Humanities
    Chinese literature, Literature, History, Digital humanities, Chinese classics, Buddhism
    Item Type:
    Tang poetry, social network analysis, exchange poetry, Literary history, Classical Chinese literature
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    This article combines qualitative and quantitative methods to rethink the literary history of late medieval China (830–960 CE). It begins with an overview of exchange poetry in the Tang dynasty and its role in the construction of the poetic subject, namely, the poetic subject's distributed textual body. A total of 10,869 poems exchanged between 2,413 individuals are cataloged to seek the structure of the collectively imagined literary relations of the time. This catalog is subjected to social-network analysis to reveal patterns and peculiarities in the extant corpus of late medieval poetry, which in turn prompt close readings of the sources. These readings lead to four conclusions about the history of late medieval poetry: (a) Buddhist monks were hubs of literary activity, (b) the poet Jia Dao became an increasingly important site of connection over time, (c) the concept of “poetic schools” is not a useful lens through which to view the Late Tang, and (d) poets at the center of the network are increasingly characterized by their mobility. This combination of network analysis and close reading highlights the dynamic nature of Chinese literary history, providing insight into the ever-shifting conjunctures of forms, genres, expectations, and relations in the late medieval literary world.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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