Ritual and Literary Writing: The Narration of Great Peace in the Reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang

Project: Research

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This project aims to research the concept of a society of great peace, activities meant to construct such a state, and the pertinent literary production, during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong 玄宗 (712-756) of the Tang, from interdisciplinary perspectives on governance, thought and literature. The concept of great peace was mainly advocated by Zhang Yue 張說 (667-731) and Zhang Jiuling 張九齡 (678-740). Discourse on great peace centered on three aspects: a Sage King who accepts the Mandate of Heaven, the great peace of governance by ritual-and-music, and reporting great successes to the spirit world. At the time, a society of great peace was built according to this set of discourses; at its center was the revival of governance by ritual-and-music, and it deployed various ceremonies and rites that supported this central concept. The discourse that surrounded the concept of great peace and the implementation of ceremonial ritual produced various recorded texts such as hymns, rhapsodies and inscriptions, forming a huge “Great Peace Narrative,” which not only embodied the value of mainstream thought, but also demonstrated the ethos—or the aesthetic image—of great peace and of its emperor, to constitute an “imperial aesthetics.” Literary history discussing high Tang literature—which actually began in conceptual understandings originating in the Song and thereafter—centered on poetry, believing this embodied the “the ambient ethos of the high Tang.” This project uses interdisciplinary methods to explore and reconstruct the “Great Peace Narrative” of the reign of Xuanzong, and demonstrates a different schema of literature in the age of Xuanzong, hoping to be able to provide a new angle of investigation for research into the relevant political history, intellectual history and literary history in the Tang dynasty, as well as a reference point to investigate the relations between the culture of ancient Chinese governance and its literary products. 


Project number9043079
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/10/20 → …