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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 23, Issue 1/4, 2007

Semiotics in the Chinese Umwelt

Yü-yü Cheng
Pages 193-219

Bodily Movement and Geographic Categories
Xie Lingyun’s “Rhapsody on Mountain Dwelling” and the Jin-Song Discourse on Mountains and Rivers

While studies of Chinese landscape literature usually focus on landscape poetry (shanshui shi), I wish to take Xie Lingyun’s “Rhapsody on Mountain Dwelling” as my point of departure to discuss how the rhapsody draws from the categorization of geographic designations and local products (mingwu leiju) at work in traditional geographical texts such the “Yu Gong [Tribute to Yu]” chapter in Shangshu and the “Diguan [Regional Offices]” chapter in Zhouli More broadly, I discuss how “landscape literature” participated in contemporaneous writings on geography. Xie was part of an Eastern Jin discovery of the landscape that engaged it through bodily movement. This new embodied mode of experience altered the system of naming and explicating the terms of landscape. Xie Lingyun, hailed as the great “landscape poet” of Chinese literature, might be better described as someone who helped construct a new geographical discourse.

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