Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture

Why Remember? Memory and Practical Knowledge in Chinese Painting Texts

Date
28 March 2018
Time
Address
Lipsius Building
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Room
135

During the Ming dynasty, practical knowledge on painting began to be broadly sought after and circulated, rendering the printing of didactic texts both economically and socially profitable. Such texts were included, for example, in daily-use encyclopedias 日用類書, which offered brief entries and presented the content in a rhymed format to facilitate memorization. The major concern voiced by the editors of such works was to make this knowledge broadly available.

During the mid-Qing dynasty, when it had become common for scholar-artisans to author their own didactic texts, they began to question the value of standardized rules, giving memorization a secondary role in their theories. Nevertheless, a turn towards remembering and memorization would occur once again during the end of the Qing dynasty, following the traumatic events of the Taiping rebellion and the widespread efforts of scholars to reaffirm their local identity. In this talk I argue that the role of memory was closely related to the social function given to practical knowledge by scholars, who also shaped practices of remembering.

Monica Klasing Chen is a doctoral candidate at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies. Her dissertation project analyses the use of mnemonics in the field of Chinese painting and calligraphy, with a focus on the social value of memory practices and the transmission of practical knowledge through text and image.

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