Martin Kern, Princeton University
“Li sao” and the Making of China’s First Poet
The “Li sao” (Encountering Sorrow), the greatest poem of ancient China and the epitome of its elegiac tradition, is regarded as Qu Yuan’s (trad. ca. 340-278 BCE) personal lament while in exile. Yet close analysis offers a different conclusion: the poem is not the origin but the culmination of the “Qu Yuan tradition”; it is not his creation but, instead, is composed of the diverse poetic forms in which his story was remembered and told a century after his death.
About the Speaker.
Professor Martin Kern is the Chair of the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton University. He has published extensively across the fields of literature, philology, history, religion, and art in ancient and medieval China. His current book project is titled Performance, Memory, and Authorship in Ancient China: The Formation of the Poetic Tradition. At Princeton, Kern leads the new university-wide initiative “Comparative Antiquity”; at Renmin University of China (Beijing), he directs the “International Center for the Study of Ancient Text Cultures.”
Program of the upcoming lectures attached.
Department of Asian and North African Studies, Ph. D. Program in Asian and African Studies (Ref. Prof. Patrick Heinrich)