Crisis and Transformation in Seventeenth-Century China

Society, Culture, and Modernity in Li Yu's World

Subjects: Asian Studies, History
Paperback : 9780472085286, 472 pages, 1 drawing, 4 tables, 1 map, 6 x 9, January 1998
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Describes the social and cultural transformation of seventeenth-century China through the life and work of Li Yu

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Chronology: Ming and Ch'ing     xiii
Note about Romanization    xv
Introduction     1

Prologue. In Search of Li Yu and His World: Conflict and Tension between Individual and Society     9

1. Sociopolitical Change and Individual Response: Li Yu's Life and Work in the Age of Transition     47

2. Crisis and Transformation in the Ming-Ch'ing World" The Making of a Professional Writer     129

3. State and Society in Li Yu's Plays    193

4. Individual and Society in Li Yu's Fiction     231

5. Crisis and Revolution in the Ming-Ch'ing Intellectual World: Li Yu's World in Historical Perspective     267

Epilogue. In Appreciation of Li Yu: The Individual in Political Change and Sociocultural Transformation     321

Glossary    363
Bibliography     371
Index     429 


The seventeenth century was a time of great social and political upheaval in China. In Crisis and Transformation in Seventeenth-Century China, Chun-shu Chang and Shelley Hsueh-lun Chang offer a detailed and engaging analysis of society, culture, and the state in China during this critical period.
The main thread of the book follows the life and works of a remarkable figure of the period, Li Yü (1611-80), whose vast array of accomplishments and experiences mirror seventeenth-century China in all its complexity and excitement. Li Yü's China was a world of unprecedented changes in almost all spheres of life. A thriving commercial and industrial economy, stupendous population growth, and the emergence of a new age of science and technology were accompanied by intense urbanization, radical views on money, wealth, and luxury, liberal attitudes toward sexuality, and developments that would change the nature of the literary and intellectual world. The Changs' exhaustive exploration of Chinese historical and literary sources of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is combined with a selective application of interpretive insights and analytic techniques from the major theoretical schools.
An important resource for scholars in history, literature, and Asian studies, Crisis and Transformation extends its appeal to those interested in the history of science, issues of gender and social transformation, and popular culture movements.
Chun-shu Chang is Professor of History, University of Michigan, and Honorary Professor of Chinese History, China. Shelley Hsueh-lun Chang is Visiting Associate Professor of History and Research Associate, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.