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Research Seminar - 2020/21 Yip So Man Wat Memorial Lecture
"Objectifying People and Humanizing Things in Chinese Literature 物我之間:明清文學的「人化」與「物化」母題", with guest speaker Dr. Wai-yee Li (Harvard University)

Abstract: How are the discourse on things and the discourse on subjectivity and moral agency intertwined? References to things (wu) multiply as the vocabulary of inwardness develops during mid to late Warring States (ca. 4th-3rd century BCE). The flowering of aesthetic thought in the Six Dynasties (3rd to 6th century) is marked by a new interest in “being moved by things” (ganwu) and “giving form to things” (tiwu). Moral self-examination relies on “the investigation of things” (gewu). Agency and self-sufficiency are threatened by “taking pleasure in things” (wánwu) and superfluous things (zhangwu). Professor Wai-yee Li will reflect on the philosophical ruminations on the promise of mastery and transcendence through things, the specter of the dangerous pleasures of things, and the negotiation of boundaries between these two poles. The discussion will then turn to the idea of objectifying people and humanizing things, using Jin Ping Mei (late 16th century) and The Story of the Stone as examples.

Jan 22, 2021 12:30 PM in Vancouver

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