China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The widespread use of the term Tangshi “Tang poetry” in classical Chinese literary studies just as in everyday life in contemporary China tends to belie the ambiguity in its semantic scope. In fact, an investigation into the classical usages of the term already challenges a uniform definition of its conceptual range.
This paper proposes to reconstruct the conceptual history of Tangshi, with a focus on the intentions behind its formation and usages. A range of issues will be addressed: (1) the invention of Tangshi in the sense of a rectification of the concept shi “poetry”; (2) the use of the term in relation to the periodization within and typology of Tang dynasty (618–907) poetry (in particular, the reception of Yuan-Bai poems as well as the corpus of Late Tang poems as a whole); (3) the enhancement of an idea of Tang poetry in contrast to Songshi “Song poetry” (e.g. Qian 1947) from the Song dynasty (960–1279) onwards, together with the establishment of the dichotomization of Li Bai and Du Fu (cf. Cai 2002 and Varsano 2003); (4) a further popularization of Tangshi during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) owing primarily to the study and canonization of Tang dynasty poetry.
The present paper problematizes and disambiguates Tangshi, situating it within a broader discourse on classical Chinese poetry at large. Through a synchronic and diachronic analysis of this concept, the paper aims at shedding new light on the study and the understanding of medieval Chinese poetry.