China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Confucius is best known for his role as a teacher, yet master-disciple relationships stand outside the five core relationships recognized by the Confucian tradition. Consequently, little attention has been paid to the formative role teacher-student relationships played in the lives of Chinese literati and gentry women, or to the impact of this “sixth relationship” on the cardinal relationships<./p>
This panel addresses this gap in scholarship by highlighting the heterogeneity of teacher-student relationships in late-imperial China and focusing on the affective dimensions of these bonds. How did fiction and non-fiction implicitly or explicitly compare and contrast the duties, responsibilities, and respect that linked teachers and students to the affections and obligations incumbent upon parents and children, elder and younger brothers, or friends? What liberties accrued to teachers because of their special status, and what consequences ensued when teacher-student relationships clashed with cardinal relationships?
Our papers approach these questions from the perspectives of intellectual history, literary analysis, and translation. Zhang’s paper demonstrates that mentor-disciple relationships involved more than the mere transfer of knowledge or skills; they exerted lasting influences on literati participants’ emotive and spiritual lives, politics, and ethics. Handler-Spitz’s paper analyzes the agonizingly ambivalent fictive kinship relationship between one late-Ming literatus and a mentor he viewed as a parent. Wu’s paper examines a woman’s role in reshaping a male disciple’s relationships with his mentor and parents in a late-Ming tale. And Epstein’s paper discusses the transformative potential of women’s master-disciple relationships as depicted in a female-authored novel.