A talk by: Christian de Pee, Associate Professor of History, University of Michigan
During the eleventh century, literati tried for the first time to capture the living urban landscape in writing. As a new literary subject, the urban streetscape afforded scope for original effects, but literati also wrote the city for ideological reasons. On the written page, they could set themselves apart—as individuals in the anonymous crowd, as connoisseurs among spendthrift nobles—as they could not in the streets and markets of the dense metropolis, and they could conform the confusing movement of people, goods, and money to a moral economy of perfect circulation and equitable distribution, as they could not in practical administration.
Christian de Pee is Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He is the author of "The Writing of Weddings in Middle-Period China: Text and Ritual Practice in the Eighth through Fourteenth Centuries" (2007) and co-editor of "Senses of the City: Perceptions of Hangzhou and the Southern Song, 1127-1279" (2017). He is currently writing a history of eleventh-century China for a general audience, The Chinese Renaissance: How the Song Dynasty Changed China and the World in the Eleventh Century.