Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Conference abstract: “Changes in Chinese garden studies over the course of my career”

Image: Hangzhou West Lake, 2011, Credit J.Richard, All rights reserved.

New approaches in Chinese garden history, conference abstract

19th June 2015, at the University of Sheffield

 The conference is organised in honour of Alison's retirement this summer.

Alison Hardie, University of Leeds,

 “Changes in Chinese garden studies over the course of my career”

In the last two decades, the subject of Chinese garden studies has expanded enormously. It has gone from a situation where one person could be familiar with virtually everything that had been written on the topic in both Chinese and English to one where it would be impossible for an individual scholar to keep up with absolutely everything. One reason for this is the great expansion in Chinese-authored academic research (published in Chinese and English and also some other languages) consequent on the expansion of Chinese academia, and of the number of Chinese scholars working overseas, since the start of the reform era. Another important reason is the ‘turn’, in garden studies more generally, from a primarily aesthetic and art-historical to a more social-history focus, exemplified in Europe by scholars such as Denis Cosgrove and Tom Williamson. In Chinese garden studies a key text here was Craig Clunas’ Fruitful Sites (1996). As Chinese garden history has become a more accessible way to understand aspects of Chinese social and cultural history, it has been integrated into undergraduate courses on Chinese culture; moreover, as Chinese economic and ‘soft’ power has grown, more Chinese gardens have been created in the West, and thus general as well as academic understanding of the Chinese garden tradition has greatly increased.

See Alison's profile here
See Alison's translation of the Chinese treaty on Chinese gardens by Ji Cheng, the Yuanye, here.

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