Between the Sacred and the Profane

Love and Desire in Premodern China


Early Ming Dynasty, Chinese, Ming Huang and Yang Guifei Listening to Music, (detail) 1368-1400, ink and light color on silk, Worcester Art Museum

Friday, March 16, 2018
Rehm Library, College of the Holy Cross

This one-day conference will explore the intersection of religion, literature, and the arts through examination of various circumstances by which the discourse of love and desire is represented, transmitted, transformed, and re-contextualized in traditional China.

The conference is organized by professors Ji Hao and Ke Ren through the Asian Studies program at Holy Cross and Vivian Li, curator at the Worcester Art Museum, held in conjunction with the Worcester Art Museum exhibition, “Dangerous Liaisons Revisited: Art and Music Inspired by the Chinese Tang Court,” and supported by the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture. Conference panels are free and open to the public.


Read abstracts and presenter bios»

9:30 a.m.: Conference Opening

9:45 a.m.: PANEL 1/ In Terms of Love

Love, Desire, Romance: Interrogating Terminology
Beverly Bossler, Professor of History and Chair, East Asian Languages and Cultures Department, University of California, Davis

How Much Does a Chinese Hairpin Weigh?
Eugene Wang, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

10:50 a.m.: PANEL 2/ Moral Pleasures

Duty and Desire in Chinese Paintings and Prints
Julia K. Murray, Professor Emerita of Art History, East Asian Studies, and Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin, and Associate in Research, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University

“There is nothing more…than dressing and eating”: Li Zhi (李贄), Desire, and Ethics
Pauline Lee 李博鈴, Associate Professor of Chinese Religions and Cultures, Saint Louis University

Noon: Lunch

1:20 p.m.: PANEL 3/ Subversive Entertainments

An Urban Topography of Desire: The Pingkang Pleasure Quarters in the Tang Capital
Linda Rui Feng, Associate Professor of Premodern Chinese Cultural Studies, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto

Monkeying Around: Aliens and Lovers in Late Imperial Chinese Fiction
Paola Zamperini, Professor of Pre-modern Chinese Literature and Gender and Sexuality Studies, Founding Chair, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Northwestern University

2:25 p.m.: PANEL 4/ Staging Desire

Imperial Desire, Song-Drama, and the Printed Image in Ming Editions of the Yuan zaju Rain on the Wutong Tree
Patricia Sieber, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Ohio State University

Singing and Dancing Desire on China's Kunqu stage
Joseph S. C. Lam, Professor and Chair, Department of Musicology, and Director, Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments, University of Michigan

4:10 p.m.: Tour of "Dangerous Liaisons, Revisited" at the Worcester Art Museum