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Fragments, Ruins, and Dreamscape: Spatial Discourse and Spatial Imagination in Early Qing Literature and Culture

Yingzhi Zhao, City University of Hong Kong, Fellow 2018–2019

I finished two chapters of my project on the 17th-century Chinese garden: the first examines a special garden design, the pavilion built on the tree, and explores its cultural associations in literature and painting before and after the fall of the Ming dynasty. The second examines the discursive practices of literati in naming their places and themselves. Many of their sobriquets contain terms that mean chapel, tower, or pavilion. This indicates architectural sites began to play a more important role in literati identification with their ideal space. The photographs of two Suzhou gardens in the early 20th century in the ICFA allowed me to visualize how gardens under purview in my project might have looked in the 17th century. My communication with fellow scholars and lectures hosted by the organization pointed to new directions for my research. The significance of trees in the field of Byzantine studies helped me situate my project in a cross-cultural context and stimulated me to explore the tree in Chinese literary and visual culture from a comparative perspective.