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  • Senses of the City

Senses of the City

Perceptions of Hangzhou and Southern Song China, 1127–1279

Edited by Joseph S. C. Lam, Shuen-fu Lin, Christian de Pee, and Martin Powers

English , 2017/03 The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press

Tags: Literary Studies, Chinese Literatur, Literature

229 x 152 mm , 380pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-962-996-786-4

  • US$60.00

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In the nine original essays collected in this volume, cultural historians,literary scholars, an art historian, and a historical musicologist set out to recover the sights, sounds, and smells of the Southern Song Empire (1127–1279) and of its capital at Hangzhou (then called Lin’an). They remind the reader of the importance of dance in the lives of Song literati, of the sense of danger in the twelfth-century metropolis, of the blend of birdcalls, temple bells, and human song in the streets and in the countryside. Rather than tracing general trends in urban structure or commercial development, the leading scholars in this volume concentrate on one text, on one author, or on one genre in order to restore specific, historical connections between the text and the city, between writing and urban experience. Senses of the City proposes new approaches to the study of Chinese cities and contributes to a general history of the senses.


“While previous scholars have focused on the structural properties of Song dynasty (960–1279) cities, contributors in this volume unite in an effort to restore the connection between the historical texts concerning Southern Song cities, mainly Lin’an, or Hangzhou, and the actual physical urban space described in those works. Their richly detailed essays reveal a world distinct from, yet at the same time related to, the rich urban and material cultures of Hangzhou. The sights, sounds, and even smells of the greatest city on earth in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are at once palpable in the nine essays assembled here, all of which are penned by prominent scholars in the field. This book is highly recommended for all readers interested in the cities of ancient China.”

James M. Hargett, The University at Albany,State University of New York

“Never meant to be an imperial capital, Hangzhou always exceeded the category of a court city. Its chaotic energy seduced literati and painters who might have wanted to tame its excesses to turn away from the old models of imperial stasis and enter into the flux of change. The authors of this volume revisit important literary, artistic, and historical sources of the Song dynasty to capture this extraordinary transformation and offer new ways to appreciate the excitement and anxiety of living in this urban world.”

Timothy Brook, University of British Columbia, author of The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties

Joseph S. C. Lam is professor of musicology at the University of Michigan. His publications include: Kunqu, the Classical Opera of Globalized China (forthcoming) and Historical Studies on Song Dynasty Music: Theories and Narratives (in Chinese, 2012).

Shuen-Fu Lin is professor emeritus of Chinese literature at the University of Michigan. He is contributor to The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature.

Christian De Pee is associate professor of history at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Writing of Weddings in Middle-Period China: Text and Ritual Practice in the Eighth through Fourteenth Centuries (2007), and of articles about cities,gender, historiography, ritual archaism, and archaeology.

Martin Powers is Sally Michelson Davidson Professor of Chinese arts at the University of Michigan. Two of his books, Art and Political Expression in Early China (1992) and Pattern and Person: Ornament, Society, and Self in Classical China (2006) received the Levenson Prize for best book in pretwentieth century Chinese Studies.

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