The Splendors of the Medieval Court





This course explores medieval Chinese court culture from the fifth through early eighth century (the late Northern and Southern dynasties through the early Tang). This was a period when the court occupied a central position in the cultural life of society and played a role in the empire far beyond political administration.  We will discuss court literature as well as examine multiple facets of aulic life including rituals, behavioral norms, vestments, outings—the contexts that frame literary production. The goal is to foreground the court as a unique social entity, a community where power relations remained fluid and ambiguous, a “figuration of individuals” with a special set of behavioral codes and customs. To understand the configuration of the court society is to gain much insight into the literary, cultural, social and political history of the medieval period.

Prerequisite: two years of Classical Chinese or equivalent.