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Modern China Lecture Series Featuring Fei-Hsien Wang – Everybody Loves Qianlong: Vernacular Fantasies, Cultural Consumption, and the “Prosperous Age” in Post-Imperial China

October 27, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Read the transcript of the event here.

Speaker: Fei-Hsien Wang, Associate Professor, Department of History, Indiana University Bloomington

Examining a wide range of cultural products and genres from the late nineteenth century to the present, this talk traces the evolution of the vernacular myths and popular fantasies about Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799). As China’s cultural economy and political climate transforms overtime, new stories and myths about Qianlong emerge to satisfy the changing desires of the audience as well as the political authorities. These popular cultural products have gradually shaped a common historical memory that takes the place of Qing “history” in most (Han) Chinese audience’s minds, despite generations of specialists’ effort to debunk it. The voracious fascination with this most accomplished Manchu emperor, however, has been an uneasy one. At the core of the vernacular fantasies of Qianlong lies the unsolved tension between the modern Han/Chinese nationalism and the legacy of a non-Han “prosperous age” (shengshi). The unofficial endorsement by the PRC leaders of using High Qing to talk about a great China further prolongs the career of the vernacular Qianlong.

Fei-Hsien Wang is a historian of modern China, with a particular interest in how information, ideas, and practices were produced, transmitted, and consumed across different societies in East Asia. Fei-Hsien Wang’s research has revolved around the relations between knowledge, commerce, and political authority after 1800.

Co-sponsored by the Joint Center for History and Economics.

Part of the Modern China Lecture Series

Presented via Zoom Webinar


October 27, 2020
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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