China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Hayden White has pointed out that history is a manner of speaking events, real or imaginary. How might we apply this insight to Chinese histories? This panel aims to rethink and reexamine narratives of historical events in traditional China, including official and unofficial histories. Breaking the boundary of history and literature, this panel treats history as narrative, which provides a new angle to approach Chinese histories. Examining how historical narratives are constructed and how narrative as a form conveys meaning in historical writings from pre-Qin, Han, Northern Song, and Ming, the panel deepens our understanding of not only the events, but also the processes of compiling history in premodern China. Panelists particularly focus on the narrative perspective, hyperbolic rhetoric, and literary trope to explore the representation of others.
Lei Yang examines the transformation of perspective by comparing two early historical writings, delineating the shifts of emphasis through structure. The representation of revenge and Qin in Shi ji sheds light on how biases of others are sharpened and reduced.
Zachary Hershey explores Ouyang Xiu’s perception and presentation of Liao in the Song dynasty. By comparing Ouyang’s biographies of Liao founders with their representation in Liao’s own records, Hershey analyzes the perception of “self” and “other.”
Yuanfei Wang focuses on four late Ming historical and fictional narratives on “Japanese” pirates. Looking at how each account delineates pirates based upon the trope of pirates betraying to turn profits, Wang shows four different visions on the Ming empire.