Finding Oneself and Losing the Way: An Intellectual History of the City in Middle-Period China (800-1100 CE)
Christian de Pee (Associate Professor, University of Michigan), directeur d’études invité à l’EHESS, présentera en juin 2017 un cycle de 4 conférences intitulé : « Finding Oneself and Losing the Way: An Intellectual History of the City in Middle-Period China (800-1100 CE) ». Ces quatre conférences sont basées sur les chapitres du livre qu’il rédige actuellement. Il s’agit d’une histoire culturelle des villes durant la transition Tang-Song.
Ces conférences auront lieu dans le cadre du séminaire de Christian Lamouroux : Lettrés, financiers et militaires : les monnaies des Généralités dans la Chine des XIIe et XIIIe siècles.
Programme des conférences
- Mardi 6 juin 2017 (11h-13h) (EHESS, 54 bd Raspail – 75006 Paris, Salle A 737, 7e étage)
The City at the Center of the World: Chang’an and the Literary Geographies of Ninth- and Tenth-Century China.
Literary genres are defined not only by their linguistic register and their literary form, but also by their orientation in time and space. During the ninth century, all literary genres were oriented on the imperial capital at Chang’an (present Xi’an, Shaanxi province), where the emperor aligned human civilization with the cosmos, and where parks, gardens, and the suburban countryside manifested the progression of the seasons in their perfect form. The urban activity in the streets of the capital, however, remained unrecorded until Chang’an had been destroyed and literati had taken refuge in provincial cities.
- Jeudi 15 juin 2017 (11h-13h) : (EHESS, 54 bd Raspail – 75006 Paris, Salle A 737, 7e étage)
The City and the Self: Crowds, Commodities, and Subjectivity in Eleventh-Century China.
Although the literati of the eleventh century took the literature of the ninth century as the model for their compositions, they changed the geographic orientation of the genres they had inherited in order to create a place for the city in writing. As they opened up urban streets to view, they reflected on their encounters with anonymous crowds and on their relationship with commodities, trying to perceive themselves as others might perceive them, and assessing their value and their price. By the end of the eleventh century, they grew alarmed by the relative value this consideration attached to the newly discovered self, and either sought mastery of the crowd and commodities by supreme concentration of their mental powers or withdrew from the city to perceive the absolute value of the self in the undisturbed quiet of a rural estate.
- Lundi 19 juin 2017 (13h-15h) : (EHESS, 54 bd Raspail, 75006 – Paris, Salle A 737, 7e étage)
The City and the Empire: Financial Debates and Intellectual Trauma in Eleventh-Century China.
During the 1030s and 1040s, literati believed that they were close to discerning the universal pattern that inhered in all things and that had informed the perfect governance of the ancient sages. By perceiving the city as a living organism—whose traffic flowed like water, whose money circulated like the vital essences of the body, and whose trade flourished like a well-tended garden—they hoped to gain an understanding of the regularities that determined the movement of people, goods, and money through the empire. By the 1080s, however, irreconcilable disagreements about financial and economic policy had defeated the earlier intellectual optimism and revealed the lack of a grounded philosophical hermeneutics, thereby strengthening the resolve to seek absolute value in the self, away from the city and its unsettling economic activity.
- Lundi 26 juin 2017 (13h-15h) : (EHESS, 54 bd Raspail, 75006 – Paris, Salle A 737, 7e étage)
Text and the City: Literary Geographies and Histories of the City in Middle-Period China (800-1100 CE).
Social and economic histories of Middle-Period cities have commonly reconstructed the layout of those cities and then interpreted the reconstructed layouts in terms borrowed from social theorists such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Lewis Mumford. The intellectual history of the city attempted in this series of lectures, by contrast, seeks to maintain the categories of the period, to follow the itineraries rendered in writing, and thereby to preserve the historical connection between the text and the city. Instead of confirming a linear history of Western modernity, this intellectual history offers materials for a critique of such exceptionalist narratives by revealing modernist ways of seeing and thinking (e.g., the application of medical diagnostics to urban planning, the foregrounding of artifice and subjective perception in painting, the reflection on individuality and identity in the face of anonymous urban crowds, the development of detective stories) in a society that was neither industrial nor capitalist.
- Christian Lamouroux : christian.lamouroux [at] ehess.fr