Abstract and Keywords
Periodization is a function of a virtual literary historical story, organizing selective evidence to support a particular narrative of change. In the Chinese case, the contested variable is the degree to which literary history has autonomy or is one kind of document in a unified narrative of political and cultural history. For macroperiods, technological change is essential, namely, the gradual spread of paper during the second and third centuries ce and the larger adoption of an already existing technology of printing in the tenth century. Large decline and revival narratives were popular, and interpreting literary history in the context of the dynastic cycle became the norm.
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