Across the Yangtze: Cultural memory and historical imagination in the recreation of a Chinese state
The early Fourth Century in China was plagued with violence in the form of internal rebellions, palace power struggles, and foreign invasion. The internecine warfare at the capital weakened the state significantly, allowing the non-Chinese tribes to rebel against Jin Dynasty and eventually take over the heartland of Chinese civilization along the Yellow River valley, forcing the Jin state to flee across the Yangtze River in the south. The loyalist armies in the north and refugees who fled south all struggled to make sense of the violent changes, and control their changing world by falling back on their cultural traditions and shared history. This dissertation examines the literature of these loyalists and refugees as they sought to preserve their state and civilization. The literature of the loyalists who remained in the north to fight the Xiongnu shows how they sought to maintain order in their lives and in the war zone through traditions and history. Exodus literature shows how the refugees tried to maintain a connection between themselves, their ancestral homelands, their shared cultural heritage, and their unknown futures through the medium of poetry. Finally, once the refugees had settled in their new lands and lost the north, they reforged their connection to their pasts, their ancestral homelands, and added a new relationship to their new lives in the south through writing.
0295: Comparative literature