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The Law and the Insane: Cases of Literary Censorship Involving the Mentally Insane During the Qianlong Reign

Sivam, Peter LU (1996) The 11th EACS Conference
Abstract
In a study on the problems of censorship and interpretation from 1984, (Censorship and Interpretation; The Conditions of Reading and Writing in Early Modern England), Annabel Patterson states that British authors of the seventeenth century often used the shelter of ambiguity as a protection from the threat of censorship. But as the text had to be understood by the intended readers, Patterson argues that the writer used a set of codes for guidance to the intended meaning of the text. One of the codes identified by Patterson was the use of historical texts, such as the classics, limiting authorial responsibility as well as providing a set of allusions directing the attention to the present day.

It goes without saying that the author... (More)
In a study on the problems of censorship and interpretation from 1984, (Censorship and Interpretation; The Conditions of Reading and Writing in Early Modern England), Annabel Patterson states that British authors of the seventeenth century often used the shelter of ambiguity as a protection from the threat of censorship. But as the text had to be understood by the intended readers, Patterson argues that the writer used a set of codes for guidance to the intended meaning of the text. One of the codes identified by Patterson was the use of historical texts, such as the classics, limiting authorial responsibility as well as providing a set of allusions directing the attention to the present day.

It goes without saying that the author in late imperial China, writing under the threat of censorship, was able to use ambiguity as a protection from aggressive censorship. Some of the codes identified by Patterson in the writings from early modern England can also be traced in texts from late imperial China. But ambiguity could work in two ways; by using the cover of ambiguity the author also risked beeing accused of allusions never intended and thus becoming the victim of an arbitrary and hostile misinterpretation.

How did authorities in the Qianlong reign react when faced with texts of a highly ambiguous, or even unintelligible nature; to what extent was the decoding arbitrary? In order to explore this issue, this paper examines a number of legal cases involving the writings of people who were classified as mentally insane by the reporting official, or others involved. One of the earliest cases is that of Ding Wenbin (Shandong, 1753), which implicated the governor of Jiangsu, Zhuang Yougong. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
keywords
insanity, Qing dynasty, Censorship, Qianlong
conference name
The 11th EACS Conference
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
06735895-ebc6-4382-aee9-b9190e985f99 (old id 1290202)
date added to LUP
2009-02-06 12:36:46
date last changed
2016-04-16 10:42:40
@misc{06735895-ebc6-4382-aee9-b9190e985f99,
  abstract     = {In a study on the problems of censorship and interpretation from 1984, (Censorship and Interpretation; The Conditions of Reading and Writing in Early Modern England), Annabel Patterson states that British authors of the seventeenth century often used the shelter of ambiguity as a protection from the threat of censorship. But as the text had to be understood by the intended readers, Patterson argues that the writer used a set of codes for guidance to the intended meaning of the text. One of the codes identified by Patterson was the use of historical texts, such as the classics, limiting authorial responsibility as well as providing a set of allusions directing the attention to the present day.<br/><br>
It goes without saying that the author in late imperial China, writing under the threat of censorship, was able to use ambiguity as a protection from aggressive censorship. Some of the codes identified by Patterson in the writings from early modern England can also be traced in texts from late imperial China. But ambiguity could work in two ways; by using the cover of ambiguity the author also risked beeing accused of allusions never intended and thus becoming the victim of an arbitrary and hostile misinterpretation. <br/><br>
How did authorities in the Qianlong reign react when faced with texts of a highly ambiguous, or even unintelligible nature; to what extent was the decoding arbitrary? In order to explore this issue, this paper examines a number of legal cases involving the writings of people who were classified as mentally insane by the reporting official, or others involved. One of the earliest cases is that of Ding Wenbin (Shandong, 1753), which implicated the governor of Jiangsu, Zhuang Yougong.},
  author       = {Sivam, Peter},
  keyword      = {insanity,Qing dynasty,Censorship,Qianlong},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {The Law and the Insane: Cases of Literary Censorship Involving the Mentally Insane During the Qianlong Reign},
  year         = {1996},
}