Mapping the Weird: Using GIS Tools to Explore Late Ming zhiguai(and vice versa)

Colloquium | March 6 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Rania Huntington, Associate Professor and Chair, East Asian Languages and Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 Sophie Volpp, Chair, Center for Chinese Studies; Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

One of the distinctive features of the zhiguai genre is that no matter how bizarre the events described, the settings are usually recognizable mundane places. With the increasing accessibility and sophistication of Geographic Information Systems software, mapping the geographic information provided in the tales offers a promising approach to reading long, varied collections on a scale larger than the individual tale. Focusing on two large thematically arranged Wanli era collections, Kuaiyuan zhiyi 獪園志異(preface 1613) and Ertan leizeng 耳談類增 (1603), I explore what reading with maps can tell us about the geographical imagination on the level of individual story, story topic, and collection. These collections represent a distinctive generic space from the subjects of most literary historical geography, poetry or local gazetteers, an unofficial space between the personal and the collective.