The Politics of Li Yu’s Xianqing ouji (Casual Expressions)
When it comes to an understanding of the politics of literature and literary production, our field is still largely dominated by Craig Clunas’ framework (itself largely adapted from Bourdieu). I am interested in considering the politics of Li Yu’s Xianqing ouji 閒情偶寄 (1671) not simply as a means for its author to climb up a social hierarchy but as a much more expansive political imagining. Many of the collection’s essays treat what are obviously political topics (for example, behavior appropriate to people of different social standing), but I will argue that their form and language also demand consideration as political acts.
Tina Lu is the Colonel John Trumbull Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University.