Talk at Stanford: “On the Fungibility of Money, Merit, and Meter: Debts in the Late Tang”

I will be giving a talk at Stanford University on some of my most recent research, namely on concepts of debt in medieval China and how they relate to literature. The abstract reads:

This presentation explores the concept of debt in ninth and tenth-century China as it was manifested in three discursive systems: those of finance, religion, and poetry. These three systems did not exist in isolation from one other; rather, money, merit, and meter were often understood to be fungible.That is, diverse sources reveal that these debts could be repaid not only in kind (poetry with poetry, merit with merit) but also by one of the other forms (money with poetry, merit with money). By adding poetry and merit to the mix of exchangeables, this presentation upsets the idea of a binary metaphor, that monetary debt was real and other forms were metaphoric. Its central claim is that the writing of poetry and the creation of merit came to be seen as economic as much as an aesthetic and religious activities in the late Tang: they had value, concrete value which could be directly traded for very real benefits. Poets and monks, even more than merchants, were the creators of wealth.

Anyone affiliated with Stanford is welcome to come listen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *