Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Paul W. Kroll

Second Advisor

Antje Richter

Third Advisor

Ding Xiang Warner

Fourth Advisor

Matthias L. Richter

Fifth Advisor

Katherine Alexander


This dissertation investigates what Tang (618-907) literature was in its own time, as opposed to how it has been constructed at later times and for different critical purposes. The core of this dissertation is to diversify and complicate our understanding of Tang literature, including Tang poetry, from the perspective of self-(re)presentation, and by bringing out certain genres, works, and literati that have been overlooked. Prevailing narratives of Tang literature usually present it as a uniform phenomenon that went through four clear developmental stages, and are often restricted to shi-poetry, for the Tang is dubbed as the “golden age” of the shi. Such narratives may sound very neat, but they present one particular view of the Tang literary landscape, and conceal various other aspects and features that contributed to Tang literature. To remedy this situation, my dissertation offers a new historical narrative of Tang literature, one that is neither restricted to shi-poetry nor bounded by its traditional fourfold periodization, but presents Tang literary history as more multifaceted than has previously been portrayed. More specifically, I have considered in detail four literary forms that were both prevalent and important in the Tang period—the occasional preface, the self-recommendation letter, the fu, and autobiographical verse in various forms (including encomium, entombed epitaph, and shi). Through the discussion of these genres in four chapters, I show that the conventional fourfold periodization of Tang literature obscures the fact that High Tang literature is often similar to the work of the early Tang, that Tang literati did not view literature as “pure” literary composition but as an integral part of their socio-political life, and that a conscious, public self-(re)presentation grew to be a critically prominent feature of Tang literature.