The Rhetoric of Hiddenness in Traditional Chinese Culture

DATE: Friday-Saturday, September 28-29, 2007

PLACE: Seaborg Room, The Faculty Club, UC Berkeley

FORMAT: Conference

SPONSORS: Center for Chinese Studies
East Asian Languages and Cultures
Townsend Center



How does the play of the hidden and the manifest contribute to the construction of meaning in traditional China? The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures brings together scholars from the fields of traditional Chinese literature, philosophy, art, history, and Buddhism for two days of panels and discussion on the craft and cultural significance of hiddenness in traditional Chinese culture.


I. Hiddenness and the Play of Perception

The Yi-Yan Paradigm and Early Chinese Theories of Literary Creation
Cai Zong-qi, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
     The triad of yi, xiang, yan constitutes the onto-epistemological paradigm established by Wang Bi (226-249). Beginning with Lu Ji (261-303), Chinese critics have sought to understand the process of literary creation in terms of a transformation of what is "hidden" (the insubstantial authorial yi), often through the intermediary of xiang (images), into what is "tangible" (yan, words of a finished work). Exploiting the explanations of the genesis and import of the yi and xiang, as well as their dynamic interplay, and thus formulated richly diverse theories of literary creation. Major texts of literary criticism from the Six Dynasties, Tang-Song, and Ming-Qing periods will be discussed.

"The Disarrayed Peaks Conceal an Old Monastery": Poeticized Pictorial Conception in Northern Song
Eugene Wang, Harvard University
     A contest for students of painting sponsored by the Northern Song court included a well-known test topic. Students were asked to picture a poetic line: "the disarrayed hills hide an old monastery." The wining composition shows a banner post peeping behind mountain ridges. The episode is often cited as an innocuous example of pictorial ingenuity in visualizing poetic thought. The question of why the old monastery is to be "hidden" and why the hiddenness amounted to a favored theme for painting has rarely been addressed. It will be demonstrated that the formal configurations of concealment in Northern Song landscape painting, motivated by the much-touted "suggestive hiddenness" (cangyi), are in fact codifications of cultural values resulting from a set of historical dynamics and circumstantial contingencies. The paper is a study of the mechanism of unruly historical circumstances translating into formal schemes, involving decisions about what is to be hidden and shown.

Synecdoche of the Imaginary
Stephen Owen, Harvard University
     In this paper I would like to begin by the peculiar association in Chinese poetry between scenes in mist and the "poetic." I will argue that mist disrupts a visually continuous ground, making phenomena in a scene synecdoches of some whole. Given the visual vocabulary of "figure" and "ground," I would like to go on to talk about the role of this peculiar form of synecdoche as the sublation of ground, often invoked as fragmentation, dissolution, and historical loss.

Reading Wang Wei's "Wang River Collection" Again: The Use of the Character Fu
Wendy Swartz, Columbia University
     This paper discusses questions of visual perception and cognition in Wang Wei's 王維 (699 or 701-759 or 761) Wang River Collection 輞川集. It delves into these questions through an examination of Wang Wei's use of the character "fu" 復 (again). This character appears in five of the twenty quatrains, signifying either the workings of a cycle or repetition of action. This perception of repetition provides remarkable insight into Wang Wei's understanding of the world he sees.

II. Hiddenness and Revelations of Self

Anonymity and Hiddenness in Medieval Chinese Biography
Alan Berkowitz, Swarthmore College
     In the mid fifth century, Yuan Shu compiled a work called "Accounts of Genuine Reclusion" that included biographical accounts only of "men inreclusion since antiquity who had left their traces without leaving behindtheir names," men renowned for their acts or their writings, but who remained anonymous except for a descriptive sobriquet. Not long after, RuanXiaoxu headed his tripartite "Accounts of Lofty Reclusion" with stories of men who, similarly, were remembered for their preeminent words and conduct but whose names had not survived. For the compilers of the accounts, these men ostensibly were truly hidden men, as opposed to hidden worthies with names whose traces clearly were the spoor of their unhidden lives. Moreover, the biographical sections on reclusion in several of the early medieval and medieval dynastic histories, as well as the "Accounts of High-minded Men" by Huangfu Mi, Ji Kang, and others all contain goodly numbers of biographies of individuals who have earned a lasting reputation anonymously. Similarly, any number of anonymous recluses are encountered fortuitously in historical and belletristic literature whose wise comments eclipse their more formal identities. And what of the facetious anonymity of such famous examples of autofictography as "Mr. Five Willows" or "The Man Without a Name"? In the way that jade-like virtue may be hidden but not diminished beneath a rustic cloak, anonymity and "hiddenness" clearly do not obfuscate a jewel of worthiness, and rather enhance it instead. Further, in some ways anonymity may even functionally open the possibilty of generality and universality in place of confined specificity and limited applicability. This essay will explore various aspects of the rhetoric of hiddenness in the biographical tradition of early medieval and medieval China.

Hiding Through Revelations in Late Imperial Romantic Memoirs
Wai-yee Li, Harvard University
     Historians and literary scholars in search of records of private life in late imperial China have often turned to the literature of remembrance that men wrote about the women they loved. Some prominent examples include Li Yu's (1611-ca. 1680) memoir of his two concubines, Mao Xiang's (1611-93) Reminiscences of the Plum Shadows Studio, Yu Huai's (1616-96) Records of Travels in Wu, Shen Fu's (1763-ca. 1808) Six Records of a Floating Life, Chen Peizhi's (1794-1826) Reminiscences of Xiangwan lou, and Jiang Tan's (d. 1862) Remembrances Under the Autumn Lamp. These memoirs purport to reveal the authors' personal feelings and their attempts to find meanings beyond public roles as scholar or official. However, self-revelations also follow conventions of idealizing the beloved and of fashioning a romantic or moral self image. I will discuss the boundaries of reticence in this genre of writings.

Women in the Tower: "Nineteen Old Poems" and the Poetics of Un/concealment
Xiaofei Tian, Harvard University
     This paper examines a group of anonymous poems dated to the second century and known as "Nineteen Old Poems." Although The Classic of Poetry and the Songs of Chu are commonly regarded as the fountainhead of Chinese literature, "Nineteen Old Poems" in many ways constitute the true origin of classical Chinese poetry in terms of form, topic, motif, and imagery. Apparently straightforward and transparent, this group of poems tantalizes with a protean quality: reading closely, we realize that we are often at a loss as to who is speaking what to whom. This impression is confirmed by late imperial Chinese critics' extremely diversified and often conflicting interpretations of these deceptively simple little poems. Many signs seem to point to a narrative fullness just underneath the linguistic surface; elliptical words and phrases serve as indexes of hidden stories. But just as we think we have deciphered the covert messages, other hermeneutic possibilities creep up and make a mess of everything. In the end, it turns out that the gesture of ellipsis in "Nineteen Old Poems" points to nothing but the principle of hiddenness itself. How do the poems do this, and why? What are the possible consequences for the later development of classical Chinese poetry? These are the questions I attempt to answer in this paper.

Secret Histories and Social Networks
Jack W. Chen, University of California, Los Angeles
     The concept of gossip may be understood in terms of the circulation of private information through a public network. At the same time, however, the information that circulates is cannot be entirely private, nor can the network be entirely public. Both are defined in terms of the other: that is, the circulation of information is what defines the network, and the network is that gives meaning to the information. Though this may seem to be tautology, one might say that the information is significant only to the extent that it circulates within a network that understands the significance of the information.
     In the following paper, I will discuss these theoretical concerns through an examination of the life of Li Yi, a Tang official and poet. I will begin by discussing Li Yi's biographies as they are related in the two Tang histories. There, passing reference is made to a youthful problem that delayed his progress up the social ladder, but nothing further is said about what this problem was. One must instead turn to a chuanqi entitled "Huo Xiaoyu zhuan," which explains that a romantic episode in Li Yi's life gave rise to a lifelong paranoia and jealousy - the problem hinted at in his official biographies.

III. Hiddenness and the Manifestation of Knowledge

The Ruling Mind: Persuasion and the Origins of Chinese Psychology
David Schaberg, UCLA
     As object of obedience, of observation, of persuasion, of cure, and of efforts at control and manipulation, the ruler is a commanding presence in the texts of preimperial and early imperial China. It is from the practical challenges of persuasion that the first sustained analyses of the ruler's psyche emerge, bringing with them theories of inborn faculties, the emotions, motives, and compulsive behavior. Because of the difficulties of reaching it, conceptualizing it and working upon it, the ruler's mind is a hidden object par excellence. The Mengzi, both in its direct theorization of human nature (xing 性) and in its display of rhetorical cunning, implies the existence of a sophisticated model of the mind; this model, I will argue, owes more than is usually recognized to an original analysis of the ruler's mind, and in some respects imposes the model of the ruler's psyche on all others. The Han Feizi develops an extraordinarily complex of the ruler's mind, with its motives and contradictory pretensions, and proposes a system of control that is in no small measure designed to protect the ruler himself and his polity from the effects of his desires. The Zhuangzi and associated texts present the ruler's mind as complicated by emotional ailments, but curable. Finally, the Laozi and texts that echo its strategies imply that to cure the ruler's mind is to pacify the world itself. With this synthesis, so influential in the early decades of the Han, an early tradition of psychological thought finds a lasting place in the political philosophy of the empire.

Beliefs about Social Seeing: Hiddenness and Visibility in the Classical Era in China
Michael Nylan, UC Berkeley
     For the past year, I have been exploring the prevailing theories about seeing, visualizing, and thinking that dominated three quite different societies, those of classical China; classical Greece; and twenty-first century America. For the conference, I would like to limit my remarks generally to the social contexts for beliefs about seeing in early China and, more specifically, to the social advantages and disadvantages attached to the concepts of hiddenness and visibility. Noting that the social valences of the word wei changed dramatically over the course of Zhanguo, Qin, and Han, I construct a tentative historical hypothesis incorporating several observations: first, that by late Zhanguo, the received texts display an acute fear that anyone desiring to become the cynosure of all eyes may come to be viewed instead with the sort of contempt that stems from over-exposure to prying eyes; second, that the older aristocratic notion that elites were to display visible and visually arresting exemplary models for the benefit of their inferiors (moral or social) competed, in the early empires, with the newer notion that elite persons and activities will be valued to the extent that they are kept from view; and third, that conflicts over the reigning paradigms of viewing produced in both visual and verbal rhetoric attempts to balance hiddenness and visibility, producing an impressively authoritative, yet expressively opaque stance that eventually would serve as reigning paradigm for governing elites in the post-Han period.

Manifesting Sagely Knowledge: Commentarial Strategies in Chinese Late Antiquity
Michael Puett, Harvard University
     This paper will explore the commentarial strategies that developed over the course of the Han and Wei periods for reading the pre-Han texts attributed to sages. One of the key moves in these commentaries involved the attempt to draw out for a non-sagely audience the hidden insights contained in sagely writings. I will analyze why these concerns for making manifest the hidden teachings of the sages arose, discuss the different strategies that were created to draw out the hidden insights, and explore the implications of these strategies.

Ershisi shipin and its World of Deferred Meaning
Paula Varsano, UC Berkeley
     Among the writings that comprise the corpus of traditional Chinese literary theory, few rival the Ershisi shipin (Twenty-four categories of poetry) for its ability to compel - or even provoke - readers to confront the aesthetic effects and epistemological implications of the rhetorical foregrounding of hiddenness. By what means does the author engage readers in a seemingly irresolvable dance between disclosure and hiddenness; and, more importantly, to what purpose? What is the essence of the knowledge that is being transmitted, and why must it be conveyed in this manner? Years after its (debatable) date of initial circulation, several Ming and Qing authors, Yuan Mei the most renowned among them, chose to imitate, explicate and expand upon this work - careful all the while to avoid, somehow, doing violence to its essential hiddenness. In doing so, they only beg the question of the play between the apprehensible and hidden aspects of such a work. This paper will examine the workings and significance of the rhetoric of hiddenness in the Ershisi shipin, and situate it in relation to some of the major works of premodern literary theory.

IV. Hiddenness and the Material World
Kuriyama Image

The Puzzle of the Transparent Chinese Body
Shigehisa Kuriyama, Harvard University
     Western anatomical illustrations have long urged us to see the human body as an opaque and dense realm of buried secrets, which must be painstakingly exposed, layer by layer, through dissection. But charts of the viscera in traditional China offer a strikingly different view. Here the body appears completely transparent, and the wuzang liufu are pictured without the slightest hint of hiddenness - as if we had only to look to see them, as if the spleen, and liver, and gall bladder were as plainly visible as a person's eyes, and nose, and mouth. As if to oppose visible surface and concealed interior made no sense.
     How should we interpret this contrast between opaque and transparent bodies? What does it suggest about the comparative metaphysics of hiddenness? I propose to relate these questions to a theme that historians of medicine have previously ignored. I mean the comparative history of excrement.

Chinese Images Inside Out: Concealed Contents, Secluded Statues, and Revealed Religion
James Robson, University of Michigan
     In this paper I reflect on the topic of "hiddenness" in Chinese culture through a consideration of a curious collection of religious statuary from the Hunan region. These statues, which have been produced from the Ming Dynasty (1368-164) to the present, allow for a critical engagement with the issue of "hiddenness" from two main perspectives. In the first part of the paper I discuss how all of these statues contain a small niche carved into their backs where various things are hidden. The statues are filled with a variety of objects including a medicinal packet [yaobao 藥包], desiccated animals and insects, coins or paper money, small pieces of lead or jewelry, talismans [fu 符], and a document called a "consecration certificate" [yizhi 意旨]. The "consecration certificate" is perhaps the most important object since it allows us to move from the invisible realm of the statue's inner recesses to the visible realm of social and religious practice. Why were things hidden in these statues? What are the hidden meanings of their contents? What can their dark inner recesses tell us about previously occluded aspects of Chinese religious practice? In the second part of the paper I shift the discussion to a different sense of "hiddenness" by considering why these images have been hidden from public view and why they have remained invisible in scholarship on Chinese religions and religious imagery. Why, for example, were these images relegated to the dark storage rooms of museums without further study or examination? In order to try and answer those questions I reflect on the ways that the long legacies of idolatry and iconoclasm have conditioned the reception of these small statues.

Absence and Presence: The Great Wall in Chinese Art
Lillian Lan-ying Tseng, Yale University
     This paper explores how the Great Wall has been visualized in China. It starts with the modern fascination with the Great Wall as a spectacular landmark among European and Chinese painters. It proceeds with the contemporary reflection on the Great Wall as an intriguing heritage in the avant-garde movement. In contrast with modern and contemporary trends, this paper then focuses on the absence of the Great Wall in the Han dynasty, discussing how the Great Wall is "hidden" in a visual program that stresses the cultural boundary between the agricultural society and the nomadic world.

Hiddenness and Materiality in Honglou meng (Dream of the red chamber)
Sophie Volpp, UC Berkeley
     Within the canon of pre-modern fiction, no text so deeply engages the rhetoric of hiddenness as Honglou meng. Honglou meng's concern with hiddenness has most often been treated in terms of the novel's relation to allegory, an approach that resonates with the commentarial tradition's emphasis on homonyms and puns, since Honglou meng's earliest reception fundamental to an understanding of how this novel produces meaning. A consequence of the emphasis on decoding encouraged by the commentarial tradition, however, is that it allows the reader to read through the materiality of objects represented in the text, and to allow the significance of objects to remain hidden. In this paper, I ask the following questions: What sort of relation does the novel propose between the lyrical aesthetic and the material world? How does the mode of reading encouraged by Honglou meng commentaries efface the material elements suggested by the text? What happens when we re-introduce the effaced materiality of objects mentioned in the text? I engage in a reading of a scene from Chapter 41 in which Liu laolao walks through a mirror with a trap door, a device that the text notes is of western origin, into Baoyu's bedroom. That the mirror is of western origin suggests to the Zhang Xinzhi commentary a connection with Lin Daiyu, whose father's name is "Ruhai" (like the seas). I pursue a reading based on the commentary that examines the ways in which the mirror's capacity to reflect speaks to the novel's primary concerns with illusion and disenchantment, and then introduce the cultural history of such illusionistic devices of western origin, to see if our reading of the text might change when the materiality of objects is re-introduced.




All panels are free and open to the public.
Note: This location is not wheelchair accessible.

Friday, September 28 2007
Opening Remarks - Keynote Address - Pauline Yu
9:00 am - 9:30 am
Hiddenness and the Play of Perception
9:30 am - 12:00 pm

Chair: Alan Berkowitz
Discussant: Robert Ashmore

  • The Yi-Yan Paradigm and Early Chinese Theories of Literary Creation (Zong-qi Cai)
  • "The Disarrayed Peaks Conceal an Old Monastery": Poeticized Pictorial Conception in Northern Song(Eugene Wang)
  • Synecdoche of the Imaginary (Stephen Owen)
  • Reading Wang Wei's "Wang River Collection" Again: The Use of the Character Fu (Wendy Swartz)

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch on site

Hiddenness and Revelations of Self
1:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Chair: Michael Nylan
Discussant: Michael Puett

  • Anonymity and Hiddenness in Medieval Chinese Biography (Alan Berkowitz)
  • Hiding Through Revelations in Late Imperial Romantic Memoirs (Wai-yee Li)
  • Women in the Tower: "Nineteen Old Poems" and the Poetics of Un/concealment (Xiaofei Tian)
  • Secret Histories and Social Networks (Jack Chen)

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Hiddenness and the Manifestation of Knowledge
9:00 am - 11:30 am

Chair: Sophie Volpp
Discussant: Robert Sharf

  • The Ruling Mind: Persuasion and the Origins of Chinese Psychology (David Schaberg)
  • Beliefs about Social Seeing: Hiddenness and Visibility in the Classical Era in China (Michael Nylan)
  • Manifesting Sagely Knowledge: Commentarial Strategies in Chinese Late Antiquity (Michael Puett)
  • Ershisi shipin and its World of Deferred Meaning (Paula Varsano)

11:30 am - 1:00 pm - Lunch on site

Hiddenness and the Material World
1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Chair: Jack Chen
Discussant: Tian Xiaofei

  • Hiddenness and Materiality in Honglou meng (Dream of the red chamber) (Sophie Volpp)
  • The Puzzle of the Transparent Chinese Body (Shigehisa Kuriyama)
  • Chinese Images Inside Out: Concealed Contents, Secluded Statues, and Revealed Religion (James Robson)
  • Absence and Presence: The Great Wall in Chinese Art Lillian Tseng)



Robert Ashmore, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley, received his M.A. in classical Chinese literature from Beijing University in 1992, and continued his graduate studies in the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, where he received his Ph. D. in November, 1997. His research focus is on Chinese literature of the third through eleventh centuries, with special interests in lyric poetry and poetic theory, song and musical performance, and traditional concepts of identity and personality. He is currently completing work on a book manuscript on the literary culture of the early ninth century.

Alan Berkowitz, Department of Chinese, Swarthmore University

Zong-qi Cai is Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1991. He is the author of The Matrix of Lyric Transformation: Poetic Modes and Self-Presentation in Early Chinese Pentasyllabic Poetry (Michigan, 1996) and Configurations of Comparative Poetics: Three Perspectives on Western and Chinese Literary Criticism (Hawaii, 2002). He has edited A Chinese Literary Mind: Culture, Creativity, and Rhetoric in Wenxin dialong (Stanford, 2001), Chinese Aesthetics: The Ordering of Literature, the Arts, and the Universe in the Six Dynasties (Hawaii, 2004), and How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology (Columbia, 2008). He has also published numerous articles on classical Chinese poetry, literary criticism, comparative literature and philosophy.

Jack W. Chen, Assistant Professor of Chinese Poetry and Thought at UCLA, studied at Harvard University for his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. He is currently completing work on a monograph, "The Poetics of Sovereignty in Medieval China," which will focus on the literary writings of Tang Taizong (r. 626-49). He is also preparing work on his next project, which will examine the idea of gossip in the Tang and Song dynasties. He has broader interests in the history of classical Chinese literature (Han through Northern Song), theory of the lyric, and the relationship between poetry, rhetoric, and philosophy.

Shigehisa Kuriyama, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Wai-yee Li, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Michael Nylan is Professor of History at UC Berkeley. Born on a farm in the "bluegrass" area of Kentucky, she eventually undertook graduate study at Harvard, Cambridge, Princeton, and the Institute of Archaeology in Beijing. She has taught at Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania) and the University of California at Berkeley. Her past publications include five books (the most recent devoted to the "Wu Family Shrines") and nearly fifty articles detailing various forms of representation. Her writings, usually focused on the classical era in China, address topics as varied as rhetoric, gender construction, cosmology, political art, calligraphy, early conventions of history, and classicism.

Stephen Owen, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Michael Puett, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

James Robson is Assistant Professor of Chinese Religions in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D in Religious Studies from Stanford University in 2002. His research and teaching interests include the history of Medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism (and their interaction), sacred geography, Buddhist word magic, and the persistence and transformation of religion in contemporary China. He is the author of "Buddhism and the Chinese Marchmount System [Wuyue]: A Case Study of the Southern Marchmount (Mt. Nanyue)," "A Tang Dynasty Chan Mummy [roushen] and a Modern Case of Furta Sacra? Investigating the Contested Bones of Shitou Xiqian," and Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak [Nanyue 南嶽] in Medieval China (forthcoming: Harvard University Asia Center Press). He is also engaged in a long term collaborative research project with the Beijing bureau of the École Française d'Extreme-Orient studying local religious statuary from Hunan province.

David Schaberg, Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles

Robert Sharf is Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley. He works primarily in the area of medieval Chinese Buddhism, but he also dabbles in Japanese Buddhism, Buddhist art, ritual studies, and methodological issues in the study of religion. He is the author of Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism: A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatise (2002), co-editor of Living Images: Japanese Buddhist Icons in Context (2001), and is currently working on a book tentatively titled "How to Read a Zen Koan." In addition to his appointment in EALC, he serves as Chair of the Center for Buddhist Studies and Director of Religious Studies at UC Berkeley.

Wendy Swartz is Assistant Professor of Pre-Modern Chinese Literature at Columbia University. Her research is primarily on medieval Chinese poetry and poetics. She has published articles on Tao Yuanming and Xie Lingyun and is the author of Reading Tao Yuanming: Shifting Paradigms of Historical Reception (427-1900) (forthcoming, Harvard University Press).

Xiaofei Tian is Professor of Chinese Literature at Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Her publications include Tao Yuanming and Manuscript Culture: The Record of A Dusty Table (University of Washington Press, 2005), Beacon Fire and Shooting Star: The Literary Culture of the Liang (502-557) (Harvard University Asia Center Press, 2007), and a Chinese book on the sixteenth-century novel Jin ping mei (Tianjin renmin, 2002). She has also published on modern Chinese literature and world literature.

Lillian Tseng, Assistant Professor of Art History at Yale University, received her B.A. and M.A. from National Taiwan University and her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2001. She taught at University of Southern California before joining the Yale faculty in 2003. She has published a number of articles concerned with diverse cultural issues in Chinese art, such as history and memory, visual replication and political persuasion, pictorial representation and historical writing, and the interchangeability of the self and the other. Her research has been acknowledged and supported by prestigious fellowships from the Getty Foundation and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. Currently she is at work on two book projects: "Picturing Heaven in Early China" and "The Frontier and Visual Imagination in the Han Empire."

Paula Varsano, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley, received her B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature in 1980 from Yale College and her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1988. Professor Varsano specializes in classical poetry and poetics from the third through the eleventh centuries, with particular interest in literature and subjectivity, the evolution of spatial representation in poetry, the history and poetics of traditional literary criticism, and the theory and practice of translation. She is the author of Tracking the Banished Immortal: The Poetry of Li Bo and its Critical Reception (Hawaii, 2003), and is currently at work on a book tentatively titled Coming to Our Senses: Locating the Subject in Traditional Chinese Literary Writing.

Sophie Volpp, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley, received her Ph.D. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard in 1995. She specializes in Chinese literature of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. Research interests include the history of performance, gender theory, the history of sexuality, and the representation of material culture. Her forthcoming book Worldly Stage (Harvard) concerns the ideological niche occupied by the theater in seventeenth-century China. Her current research examines the depiction of material objects in late-imperial literature, focusing on the relation between the representation of objects and the representation of the self.

Eugene Wang, History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

Pauline Yu became President of the American Council of Learned Societies in July 2003, having served as Dean of Humanities in the College of Letters and Science at the University of California, Los Angeles and Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures from 1994-2003. Prior to that appointment, she was Founding Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of California, Irvine (1989-1994) and on the faculty of Columbia University (1985-89) and the University of Minnesota (1976-85). She received her B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University. She is the author or editor of five books and dozens of articles on classical Chinese poetry, comparative literature, and issues in the humanities and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, and NEH. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, she is on the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, the Board of Trustees of the National Humanities Center, the Board of Directors of the Teagle Foundation, the Scholars' Council of the Library of Congress, and the Board of Trustees of the Asian Cultural Council. In addition, she is a member of the Senate of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and the Board of Governors of the Hong Kong-America Center. Yu is also an Adjunct Senior Research Scholar and Visiting Professor in East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University.



The conference "The Rhetoric of Hiddenness in Traditional Chinese Culture" will be held in the Seaborg Room of the Faculty Club, UC Berkeley.

Campus map

Directions to the Faculty Club

The Faculty Club is located in the southeast region of campus. Please find the Faculty Club in section C5 of this campus map.


If traveling by BART, exit the Richmond-Fremont line at the Berkeley station (not North Berkeley). When you leave the BART station, walk south down Shattuck Avenue to Bancroft Avenue (two or three blocks depending on which station exit you leave from) and turn left. Walk six blocks to College Avenue and turn left onto campus. Follow the path between Kroeber Hall, Wurster Hall, Hertz Hall, and Minor Hall until you reach the Faculty Club, which is nestled among the trees next to the Faculty Glade.

From Interstate 80

To reach the site by car from Interstate 80, exit at the University Avenue off-ramp in Berkeley. Take University Avenue east to Oxford Street and turn right. Oxford becomes Fulton Street in a couple of blocks. Turn left onto Durant Avenue, then left onto College Avenue. Turn left onto Bancroft Avenue. The Faculty Club is located on campus, closest to the intersection of Bancroft Avenue and College Avenue. The Faculty Club is located near Hertz Hall and Minor Hall.

From Highways 24/13

To reach us from Highways 24/13, exit 13 at Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Continue on Tunnel Road as it becomes Ashby. Turn right at College Avenue and drive approximately one mile north to Bancroft Way and turn left. The Faculty Club is located on campus, closest to the intersection of Bancroft Avenue and College Avenue. The Faculty Club is located near Hertz Hall and Minor Hall.

Directions to campus are also available at


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For parking near the Faculty Club, we recommend the following lots:

  • MLK Student Union Garage (Bancroft Way, between Telegraph Avenue and Dana Street)
  • Sather Gate Garage (two blocks south from the UC Berkeley Campus, one-half block west of Telegraph Avenue, with entrances on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way)

More information is available on the UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation page.