Address

LIAS, Room 004

matthias de vrieshof 2, Leiden

Partner(s)

Leiden University Institute for Area Studies

18 October - China Seminar: Of Spongers, Sharpers, and Cannibal Eunuchs: The Swindle Story around the World

Why do collections of swindle stories appear at certain times and places? In China, for example, the swindle story has experienced bursts of popularity during the late Ming, the early Republican era, the early Mao era, and during the last 20 years. And comparable works exist around the world. What, for example, do Zhang Yingyu’s Book of Swindles(Ming China, 1617),Richard King’s The New Cheats of London Exposed (Georgian England, 1792), and P.T. Barnum’s The Humbugs of the World (Reconstruction-era United States, 1867) have in common—and how do they differ?

Swindle stories, clearly, serve a double purpose: they teach techniques for navigating perilous social environments, and they entertain. But theirs authors tend to frame these narratives within a questionable claim: that ours is an age of unprecedented peril. Focusing on the example of China, this talk will highlight one thread running through literary history: connoisseurship of the swindler’s ingenuity.

 

Speaker
Christopher Rea – University of British Columbia
See also: http://asia.ubc.ca/persons/christopher-rea/

Time
15:15-17:00 hrs.