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Tang–Song or Song–Ming: The Significance of a Perspective Shift in Chinese Cultural and Intellectual History

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Discussions on the contrast between the Tang and Song dynasties are common in Chinese cultural and intellectual history. Will it make more sense if the continuity between Song and Ming are emphasized instead? This shift in research perspective will have multiple effects. Instead of paying exclusive attention to the elites and classics, we will focus on common knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs. As a result of this shift in the core of our research interests, the process by which ideas and cultural novelties are institutionalized, popularized, and “conventionalized” will become an important focus of historical research. Shifting our concern from the “original thinking” of the Tang and Song to the “compromise thinking” of the Song and Ming will cause an increase in the kinds of documents about cultural and intellectual history. Such changes in periodization and research perspective can stimulate fundamental changes in the study of Chinese cultural and intellectual history


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