China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
In recent years, scholars working across diverse disciplines have increasingly recognized the intimate and intricate relationships of early medieval literature and their sociopolitical and cultural contexts. Writing played crucial roles and exerted considerable power in community building, religious practice, war propaganda and bureaucratic recruitment of the time. Our panel brings together four papers that explore the sociopolitical, cultural and religious dimensions and functions of writing in the early medieval period. Yiyi Luo’s paper examines the religious dimension of Cao Cao’s (155-220) poetry in the context of the ritual practices of early Daoism; Qiaomei Tang compares Jian’an poets’ banquet poetry and their Southern Dynasties’ renditions to show the discourse of placing increased value on drinking in the third and fourth century; Qiulei Hu demonstrates that Jian’an fu (rhapsody) and shi poetry on military campaigns embody a “discourse of cultural conquest” that provides moral, political and cultural justification and legitimacy to the military operation; Matthew Wells’ paper explores the way in which literature, culture and history were deployed to access the suitability of candidates for government office in a letter exchange between Lu Ji (261-303) and Ji Zhan (253-324). This panel brings together a variety of perspectives and approaches including literary, historical and religious studies. Its discussions on the instrumentality of writing could challenge, revise, and/or complicate the age-old yet still persistent theory about the “self-awakening of literature” 文學的自覺 of the Jian’an and Wei-Jin period.