Traversing the Periphery: Focalization in Cen Shen's Frontier Settings Within the Context of Chinese Frontier Poetry




Macmillan, Daymon Joseph

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This thesis has two main objectives: to first discuss the defining characteristics of Chinese frontier poetry (biansaishi 边塞诗) while showing how this subgenre of poetry blossomed during the Tang 唐period prior to the An Lushan rebellion (anshizhiluan安史之乱), and then to focus on one Tang frontier poet in particular, Cen Shen 岑参 (715-770), for a sustained critical investigation into how the poet-narrators of his texts focalize three types of frontier settings, namely landscapes of intense heat, cold and vast distances. These two objectives necessitate dividing the thesis into a bipartite structure, which is further subdivided into six chapters. Chapters one through three address the first objective of the thesis, that of surveying frontier poetry as it pertains to the subgenre's flourishing during Tang period. Chapters four through six endeavour to traverse Cen Shen's frontier settings with a critical eye on uncovering patterns behind the manner in which the poet-narrators perceive China's borderland regions, and to show how these patterns are repeated across disparate poems where the frontier setting itself features prominently. The result of such an analysis is the realization of an underlying foundation of focalization connecting the poet-narrators in each of Cen Shen's three major frontier environements.



Chinese frontier poetry, Tang poetry, Cen Shen, Focalization