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Orthodoxy, Invention, and Appropriation in 17th- and 18th-Century Nôm Texts

Fri, April 1, 12:45 to 2:45pm, Washington State Convention Center, 3rd Floor, Room 304

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


Demotic Vietnamese texts using Nôm character script are an important, but not much studied, source of information about the process of formulating and reformulating cultural statements. This panel proposes to analyze texts from different regions and perspectives written in the 17th and 18th centuries to consider how language usage reveals accumulations of cultural debris, announces linguistic and social proscriptions, orients intellectual and political agendas, and creates cultural formations; it combines the methods of linguistics, literature, and history. John D. Phan applies phonological analysis to a 17th-century northern dictionary to illuminate the conventionalization of a prestige register of Vietnamese (Hán-Việt). K. W. Taylor uses textual and literary study with two northern 18th-century Buddhist texts to show how translating from literary Chinese (Hán) to Nôm and from Nôm prose to Nôm poetry reveals the erosion and the invention of culture. Claudine Ang brings historical, content, and reception analysis to an 18th-century southern text to indicate how it worked in a provincial Vietnamese setting at the time it was written and how it was later recycled into the Chinese Ming diaspora during the late 19th century. The general theme of the panel is that behind the modern usage of alphabetic Vietnamese is a great depth of experimentation that can be seen in the archive of surviving Nôm texts.

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