The Power of Culture-Studies in Chinese Cultural History

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Willard J. Peterson/Andrew H. Plaks/Ying-shih Yü
ISBN: 978-962-201-596-8
Chinese University Press
366 pag. hardcover 16 x 23 cm

The Power of Culture is a collection of seventeen essays dealing with selected aspects of China's cultural heritage from the Shang to Ch'ing period written from the perspectives of archaeology, art history, historical linguistics, history of literature, and history of ideas.

Some chapters consider historical moments of transition and change in which the transformations of ideas are expressed in newly invented written forms, in new genres of poetry and painting, or in new modes of thinking with altered philosophical and social implications. Other Chapters are thematic, exploring the cultural role of shamans, dragons, immotalibity-seekers, fictional shrews, or theories and styles of painting. Still other chapters focus on one author or one text to bring out unique contributions to the cultural tradition.

For all of the differences in approach, souce materials, and emphasis, the chapters nevertheless illustrate ways in which cultural expressions -sometimes regarded "merely" as ideas- could be presumed by their creators as well as by their audiences to carry a certain potency, to have latent capacity to affect not only the ideas but also the conduct of others. Taken together, the chapters suggest the range of the power of culture in China.