EAS2323H Rethinking Chinese Cultural History

EAS2323H Rethinking Chinese Cultural History: Cities Visible and Invisible
Professor Linda Feng

Course Overview
This course addresses the question of how the Chinese city was imagined and experienced, with a focus on Tang-Song and late imperial cities. Because studying cities in the past poses its own interpretive difficulties, this course will draw attention to how one might meaningfully piece together fragments of evidence (material, textual) in order to connect built environment to social structure, visual images to a sense of time/space, narrative traces to urban networks.

Some of the questions we will be asking include: 1) What were some of the social and cultural factors that shaped urban life in the remote past? 2) How was the urban landscape navigated? 3) How was information (and opinions) disseminated and communicated throughout the city? 4) How were metropolitan/cosmopolitan identities imagined? 5) For us living in the 21st century city, how can we identify and articulate the cultural and political assumptions embodied in our own inquiries when it comes to premodern cities?

To explore these issues, we will use historiographic essays, monographs, cultural theory on urbanity and space, visual material, as well as narrative writing.