Fragments of the Past: Reading Historical Miscellanies of Medieval China

UCSB Confucius Institute China Studies Forum Series

聖塔芭芭拉加州大學孔子学院中國研究論談

Fragments of the Past: Reading Historical Miscellanies of Medieval China

Prof. Manling Luo羅曼玲

Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Indiana University

Friday October 13th, 2017 @ 3:15-4:00 pm

2212 HSSB

Medieval Chinese historical miscellanies (zashi雜史) are collections mostly of anecdotes on figures and events of the past. Compiled by educated men from oral and written sources, these works tend to be marginalized vis-à-vis the official histories. In comparison, their contents seem rather fragmentary, even random, bordering on gossip and rumor. Until recently, veracity has been the yardstick of judging whether these materials should be ignored or accepted as supplements to official histories. I argue that a different approach is needed, which takes into consideration the distinctive features of these collections as an important kind of cultural production. In my article “Remembering Kaiyuan and Tianbao: The Construction of Mosaic Memory in Medieval Historical Miscellanies,” I use four collections commemorating the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty唐玄宗(685–762; r.712–756) as case studies to explore new possibilities of understanding the nature of alternative historical imaginations in medieval China.