Liu Yuan's Lingyan'ge and Practices of Reading in Seventeenth-Century Suzhou
Professor Burkus-Chasson joined the Art History program at UIUC in 1995. Her primary research areas are Chinese painting and printed books of the seventeenth century. She has worked extensively with the artistic oeuvre of Chen Hongshou (1598–1652), including his poetry, painting, and print designs, with the objective of learning how he fashioned a social self. She has also worked with the notion of visuality in late Ming culture. During her Center appointment, she will be finishing a manuscript about a printed book that was produced in the late seventeenth century, whose curious title may well serve as a signature, Liu Yuan Respectfully Painted “Lingyan’ge”. An unusual woodblock-printed book furnished with finely cut illustrations and marginalia, Lingyan’ge reconstructs a historical state portrait gallery and transforms it into a novel-like presentation of violent political change through a complex dialogue between image and text. Commissioned by a ruling officer of the newly established Manchu polity, Lingyan’ge is both subversive and unruly in its representation of the recent past, thus effectively providing a tool of propaganda for its publisher and a liminal passageway for the reluctant Ming loyalists to whom the book might have been shown. In this study, she is also concerned with the larger issue of what constituted print culture in late imperial China and the related question of how print and painting worked together and apart at this historical moment.