Chinese Visual Poetry (PhD Thesis)


Chinese Visual Poetry (PhD Thesis)
Author: Hanwei Tan
Country: USA (Indiana University)
Publication date: 2009
Number of pages: 340
UMI publication number: 3390309 (Thesis)
Source language: English
Target language : Chinese
Format: PDF / Good
Size: 14.6 MB

This dissertation examines what I propose to call Chinese visual poetry. It establishes the concept and defines the term with regard to the relationship of shiyi (poetic quality) and xiang (image, or form), which interact in various kinds of visual representation with literary phenomena. In Chinese literary history, visual poetry does not yet have a proper place, because it has been ignored as a literary genre under any name. But it is here shown to range from the beginning of Chinese pictograms to contemporary postmodernist literary and other art forms. In what I call a micro-aesthetic approach, I first examine its existence and performance in the earliest forms of Chinese characters (Chapter One). I then expand this approach to the study of literary forms called “zati” (other genres), which have been marginalized by mainstream literature, as well as to some non-literary art forms. When exploring the shiyi-xiang interaction in poetic lines and larger forms, I investigate a wanzi (word play) culture which has contributed much to the development of marginal literature and art (Chapter Two). In Chapter Three, I discuss calligraphy for what it reveals about the visual relation between the characters brushed and the images they suggest. Because it mixes verbal and visual signification in a subtle and unique artistic way I consider calligraphy the highest form of
Chinese visual poetry. In Chapter Four, I explore Chinese avant-garde visual poetry as it developed both in Taiwan and in mainland China over the past fifty years, to some extent under the influence of Western and Japanese avant-garde movements. Counterparts to Western visual and concrete poetry can be found in Chinese literary and art forms such as “new poetry,” avant-garde art, new stage art, and design. Methodologically, besides following traditional Chinese literary and aesthetic theories such as the shiyi-xiang relationship, I have also applied Western theories of verbal-visual interactions in earlier “pattern poetry” and twentieth-century visual and concrete poetry to foster an understanding of the nature, scope, and difference of Chinese visual poetry.

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