Imagery as Method: The Rhetoric of Intellectual Practice as Embodied Labor in Early China

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This study invites critical attention onto an understudied topic in classical Chinese thought and literature—namely, "labor" as a specific source of imageries and figurative language. Within this frame, the study focuses on the figuration and interpretation of intellectual practice as a form of embodied labor, a phenomenon that emerged in pre-imperial China and gained prominence during early imperial times (ca. 221 BCE-220 CE). Central to my investigation is a rhetorical body of four tropes of physical labor—plowing, weaving, fishing, and hunting—that, through rhetorical figures such as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and analogy, came to embody a constellation of values and methods toward the arts of governance, cultivation, learning, and writing, all of which constituted an empirical area of working with intellectuality.
Period5 Apr 2024
Event titleArts Faculty Research Seminar Series
Event typeSeminar