A Study of Early Chinese Concepts of Qing 情 and a Dialogue with Western Emotion Studies

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The term qing 情 (emotion) has lain at the core of Chinese thinking about literature from antiquity through modern times. It is of profound paradigmatic significance because each major reconceptualization of qing by literary writers and scholars almost invariably signifies and undergirds a new direction of literary production and reception. Mapping out qing's long and complex lexical-conceptual history over the millennia is crucial to the study of Chinese literary thought, premodern and modern alike. In undertaking such a historicized macro study, this article consistently grounds it in the microanalysis of influential and representative statements on qing made since antiquity. Through careful contextualization, it seeks to determine which particular meaning(s) of qing is most likely intended in each instance and if and how an author has reconceptualized the term to present a new understanding of literature. It also strives to assess the theoretical significance of all major qing reconceptualizations in the broader context of Chinese intellectual and literary history. Wherever appropriate, it draws insights from Western emotion studies to illuminate hitherto unrecognized theoretical significance of some major qing reconceptualizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-429
Number of pages31
JournalPrism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

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  • Chinese literary theory
  • Cognitive theory of emotion
  • Mao Shi xu
  • Qing (emotion)
  • Qing (nature)


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