A Study of Early Chinese Concepts of Qing 情 and a Dialogue with Western Emotion Studies

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The term qing 情 (emotion) has lain at the core of Chinese thinking about literature from antiquity through modern times. It is of profound paradigmatic signifcance because each major reconceptualization of qing by literary writers and scholars almost invariably signifes and undergirds a new direction of literary production and reception. Mapping out qing’s long and complex lexicalconceptual history over the millennia is crucial to the study of Chinese literary thought, premodern and modern alike. In undertaking such a historicized macro study, this article consistently grounds it in the microanalysis of influential and representative statements on qing made since antiquity. Through careful contextualization, it seeks to determine which particular meaning(s) of qing is most likely intended in each instance and if and how an author has reconceptualized the term to present a new understanding of literature. It also strives to assess the theoretical signifcance of all major qing reconceptualizations in the broader context of Chinese intellectual and literary history. Wherever appropriate, it draws insights from Western emotion studies to illuminate hitherto unrecognized theoretical signifcance of some major qing reconceptualizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-429
Number of pages31
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Chinese literary theory
  • Cognitive theory of emotion
  • Mao Shi xu
  • Qing (emotion)
  • Qing (nature)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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