Why China Loves Scholars: lessons from wen-wu

When:19 Sep 2017, 4:15pm - 5:45pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Kam Louie FAHA, FHKAH

Chinese Seminar Series


Building on my earlier work on the construction of wen-wu ? / ? (the civil and the martial) in ideal notions of Chinese masculinity, I will interrogate the role of the young scholar or caizi ?? (literally:“talented youth”) in China. This is a figure in literature who has not yet gained his wen-wu credentials, but is considered to be in the state of budding “talent,” and, as such, is highly prized as a prospective partner in love and marriage. With this understanding, I will discuss some of the reasons why such a scholar represents the ideal lover. I do this by examining the role of Jia Baoyu ??? (Precious Jade), male protagonist in the classic 18th century novel Dream of Red Mansions (Honglou Meng ???). I will also tease out a corollary from my discussion of Baoyu’s love affairs: that the “talented scholar and beautiful woman” or caizi jiaren ????, a time-honoured literary and cultural formulation has always in fact been predicated on class boundaries that cannot be transgressed.

About Kam Louie

Kam Louie FAHA, FHKAH has had a long and distinguished career, rising to serve as Dean of the Faculty Arts and MB Lee Professor at the University of Hong Kong until his retirement in 2014. His research interests cover interdisciplinary studies of language, literature, history and philosophy. Monographs include: Critiques of Confucius in Contemporary China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1980); Inheriting Tradition: Interpretations of the Classical Philosophers in Communist China (Oxford University Press, 1986) and Theorising Chinese Masculinity (Cambridge University Press, 2002). Prof Louie has published numerous edited volumes and articles, including the Cambridge Companion to Modern Chinese Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Changing Chinese Masculinities: from Imperial Pillars of State to Global Real Men (Hong Kong University Press, 2016); Australia’s Diaspora Advantage: Realising the potential for building transnational business networks with Asia [with Rizvi & Evans] (ACOLA, 2016), and Chinese Masculinities in a Globalizing World (Routledge 2015). He is currently Honorary Professor in School of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong and Adjunct Professor in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. See his profile at http://hku-hk.academia.edu/KamLouie/

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