Gardens and the City: Literati Identity Building in the Mid-Northern Song

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This paper is about gardens, city, and literati experiences in the eleventh-century China. Focusing on a series of essays titled Records of Famous Gardens in Luoyang (Luoyang mingyuan ji 洛陽名園記) written by the official-scholar Li Gefei 李格非 (ca. 1045-ca. 1105) in 1095, this paper leverages gardens in Luoyang as a new analytical lens to study ways of literati identity building in the mid-Northern Song (960-1127). By comparing writings about literati gardens before and after the eleventh century, I argue that living experience in gardens during Li Gefei’s time prompted the formation of two types of socio-political connection – synchronic and diachronic, which signified a deviation and a detachment from mimicking the imperial way of identity building.In addition, the postscript to Luoyang mingyuan ji touched upon a political rhetoric which had been closely linked to the city of Luoyang ever since the Western Zhou (1046 BCE – 771 BCE): the center of All Under Heaven (tianxia zhizhong 天下之中). This paper investigates the historical narratives around such a rhetoric and relates them to the shifting perceptions and meditations toward gardens in the eleventh century. I argue that the encounter of marginalized Yuanyou Partisans, the historical narrative of Luoyang's centrality of All Under Heaven, and the physical remains as well as the renovation of deserted Tang aristocratic gardens worked collectively to evoke a new material and intellectual experience during the mid-Northern Song.

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51 pages


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Gardens; Literati; Luoyang; Northern Song; Sensorial Experiences


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Du, Yue

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Hinrichs, Tj

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Asian Studies

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M.A., Asian Studies

Degree Level

Master of Arts

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Government Document




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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


dissertation or thesis

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