Saturday University with Hui-shu Lee
The Way of Water: Reading Landscape and Gender in Southern Song China
Water as the embodiment of yin femininity, complementing yangmasculinity, has been the most enduring element of Chinese cosmology. Water is also viewed as one of the twin components of Chinese landscape painting, known as shanshui, “mountains-and-water.”
No other epoch in Chinese history saw as full a manifestation of water physically and culturally than the Southern Song era (1127–1279). The imperial capital moved to Lin’an (Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province), one of the most celebrated locales in China, surrounded by the Zhe River and West Lake. Meanwhile, the depiction of landscape transformed, shifting from solid to void. Even more intriguing, the gradual feminization of landscape also coincided with the presence of powerful imperial women exerting political influence and artistic agency through the dynasty. This era of “excess yin,” is the subject of our scrutiny.
About the Presenter:
Hui-shu Lee is Associate Professor of Chinese Art at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to Chinese painting and gender issues, she also works on representations of place, cultural mapping, and garden culture. Among her publications are Exquisite Moments: West Lake & Southern Song Art (New York: China Institute, 2001) and Empresses, Art, and Agency in Song Dynasty China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010).
Saturday University is held in partnership with the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies, Seattle University, and Elliott Bay Book Company.