Sentimental Education in Chinese History: An Interdisciplinary Textual Research on Ming and Qing Sources

Sentimental Education in Chinese History: An Interdisciplinary Textual Research on Ming and Qing Sources

Sentimental Education in Chinese History: An Interdisciplinary Textual Research on Ming and Qing Sources

Sentimental Education in Chinese History: An Interdisciplinary Textual Research on Ming and Qing Sources

Synopsis

This is the long-awaited first book-form result of the author's pioneering interdisciplinary research on a key problem for understanding Chinese texts, and, therewith, China: its ways of expression of emotions and states of mind. Relying on his immense database on (mostly) Ming and Qing sources, the author here presents the first truly solid, source-based survey on the subject. After analysing the methodological problems involved, the volume focuses on contradictions between official values on the one hand, and practical compromises between individual appetitive energies and personal tendencies for wealth and gratification of desires on the other hand. It analyses the negotiating process between the rigid ethical codes and dynamic social changes, as well as how social control influences the cognitive elements of emotions, both in restraining personal passions and promoting the virtuous sentiments"."

Excerpt

This essay is a kind of introductory volume on the theoretical problems, methods and aims of a research project that the author started some years ago: to study the anthropological use of terms and expressions concerning emotions and states of mind, on the basis of their collection, evaluation, presentation, and critical analysis. This and the following books that are resulted from the above research are written with not only the Western reader, but also the Chinese reader in mind. the present essay does not intend to present the results of the project. These results will come out with the publication of various volumes, including the Glossaries of each selected source, and finally with the publication of the Encyclopaedia of Emotions and States of Mind in Ming and Qing Literary and Non-Literary Sources. Only the final analysis of the most representative sources of the chosen period will offer a comprehensive treatment of the subject in Chinese cultural history, contributing to our understanding of how emotional experiences are conceptualised in Chinese traditional culture, and singling out peculiar emotion categories and their cognitive backgrounds.

This study, therefore, is limited to presenting the reasons, criteria and theoretical problems concerning the author's research. the main bulk of this volume is devoted to a presentation of preliminary results concerning the use of words and expressions relating to emotions mainly in Ming and Qing fiction. Necessarily, the essay is limited by the choice of period and sources. To limit a study of this nature to a manageable format, the author chose to focus his research on a few late imperial samples relative to some prose fiction, non-literary

• This work has been written in the remit of my research on historical anthropology in late imperial China, which is supported by the Italian Ministero per l'Università e la Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica (M.U.R.S.T.) and by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (C.N.R.), as well as in the remit of the lexicographic project supported by Università degli Studi “L'Orientale” of Naples and Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente (Is.I.A.O.). I am grateful to the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for its generous financial support.

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