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Title: When the reader became the book : eleventh century voices on the Shiji
Author: Liu, Yangruxin
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2019
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With a focus on eleventh century material pertaining to the Shiji (Scribes' Records), this dissertation investigates the synchronic and diachronic diversity of approaches to this text. Whereas research on the reception of the Shiji often regards criticism formulated by Song (960-1279) intellectuals as 'misreadings' of the presumed 'true' intentions of Sima Qian (c. 145-c. 85 BC), this study proposes an alternative perspective and reads eleventh century responses to the Shiji in light of contemporary (i.e. eleventh century) textual, intellectual, and socio-political environments, regarding them as appropriations of the Shiji situated in contemporary discourses. This dissertation is divided into four main chapters. The first two chapters position the Shiji in a wider context. Chapter one focuses on the question of "Did the Shiji matter?" by discussing the Shiji in relation to other important texts and alternative sources of historical knowledge. Chapter two answers the question of "What was the problem?" with an emphasis on how the criticism of the Shiji was integrated in contemporary discourses and served specific aims. The last two chapters, each presenting a case study on the reception of one particular chapter of the Shiji, combine textual analysis and historical enquiries in emphasising the contexts of historical recipients of the Shiji. Chapter three discusses synchronic diversity of the appropriation of Jia Yi's (c. 200-169 BC) legacy transmitted in the Shiji and Hanshu (Book of the Han). Chapter four investigates Su Zhe's (1039-1112) protest to the portrayal of Confucius in the Shiji. Through the dynamic picture explored in the above-mentioned four chapters, this dissertation argues that the value of historical readings of the Shiji goes far beyond the question of whether they are up to modern standards. The abundance of historical readings represents valuable testimony to the ways readers read themselves into their texts, hence shedding light on various modes of interactions between the human and textual world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral