SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Tan, Tian Yuan (2010) Songs of Contentment and Transgression: Discharged Officials and Literati Communities in Sixteenth-Century North China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center. (Harvard-Yenching Institute monograph series, 75)

Text - Draft Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


A discharged official in mid-Ming China faced significant changes in his life. This book explores three such officials in the sixteenth century—Wang Jiusi, Kang Hai, and Li Kaixian—who turned to literary endeavors when forced to retire. Instead of the formal writing expected of scholar-officials, however, they chose to engage in the stigmatized genre ofqu (songs), a collective term for drama and sanqu. As their efforts reveal, a disappointing end to an official career and a physical move away from the center led to their embrace of qu and the pursuit of a marginalized literary genre. This book also attempts to sketch the largely unknown literary landscape of mid-Ming north China. After their retirements, these three writers became cultural leaders in their native regions. Wang, Kang, and Li are studied here not as solitary writers but as central figures in the “qu communities" that formed around them. Using such communities as the basic unit in the study of qu allows us to see how sanqu and drama were produced, transmitted, and “used" among these writers, things less evident when we focus on the individual.

Item Type: Authored Books
Additional Information: Reviews by: On-cho Ng, The American Historical Review, Vol.116, No.4 (October 2011):1100-1101; 李展全,《漢學研究通訊》第30 卷第1 期(2011):48-49; Catherine Swatek, Asian Theatre Journal, Vol.29, No.1 (Spring 2012): 310-313; Patricia Sieber, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol.72, No.1 (June 2012): 178-186; 汪詩珮, 《漢學研究》第30 卷第3期(2012):375-382; Ihor Pidhainy, Ming Studies 67 (2013): 75-77.
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia
ISBN: 9780674056046
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2009 08:48

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item