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City of Marvel and TransformationChangan and Narratives of Experience in Tang Dynasty China$
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Linda Rui Feng

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824841065

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824841065.001.0001

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Narrating Liminality and Transformation

Narrating Liminality and Transformation

(p.24) Chapter One Narrating Liminality and Transformation
City of Marvel and Transformation

Linda Rui Feng

University of Hawai'i Press

“Narrating Liminality and Transformation” examines the changing social and intellectual structures that engendered literati identities in the second half of the Tang. The cultural and aesthetic consequences of these changes shaped how literati conceived of the self as entities capable of initiation and advancement. As civil service examination recruitment began to mature in the second half of the Tang, a new notion of being established was being worked out in the cultural imagination. Its metaphors of transformation were being deployed in poetic language, but the nature and temporality of this process of transformation were more fully explored in extra-canonical narratives. Repeated literary figures point to a reconception of life between rungs on the ladder of success. In this reconception, Chang’an as a city and space served as the site for and mechanism of the transformations (real, imagined, or anticipated) at the center of a changing literati identity.

Keywords:   literati identity, rite of passage, liminality, civil service examination, jinshi degree, recruitment, transformation, threshold, self-conception

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