confucius institute

Coping with Challenges in Urban Life In Eleventh-century China

Date 日期: Thursday, November 19, 2015
Time 时间: 4:15pm
Location 地点: Lecture Center 21
Presenter: Dr. Lik Hang Tsui


In the hope of challenging the existing narrative of urban development in middle period China, this talk examines some of the problems that urban residents in the capital of Northern Song China encountered. Although writers, painters, and historians have portrayed Kaifeng’s splendor for centuries, various urban problems emerged when China was transforming into a more urbanized society in the eleventh century. I first discuss how weather hazards adversely affected the lives of residents in the context of Kaifeng’s built environment, especially how the scholar official Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072) reflected on and responded to the frustrations that arose, as seen from his letters and other records. I then explore his perceptions of the other inadequacies in urban life there, including complaints about health services. In short, I hope to draw attention to the more negative aspects of life in a rapid developing city by combining the study of activities and perceptions of urban residents, and the city’s spatial setting and environmental parameters.

[About the Presenter] 

Dr. Lik Hang Tsui is a Postdoctoral Fellow who works for the China Biographical Database at Harvard University. Before taking up this post he taught Chinese history and Classical Chinese at the University of Oxford, where he earned a doctorate studying letter writing in Song China. His interests include imperial Chinese literati culture, urban history, and the use of digital tools in teaching and research. His recent publications include a chapter in A History of Chinese Letters and Epistolary Culture edited by Antje Richter. He currently divides his time between Cambridge, MA and Beijing.