“And there’s another aphorism: Do not forget the kindness you have received.
People who forget kindness and betray justice are called those who have no conscience. Think back about how people supported you. If you turn around and are lacking in feeling, is it not worse than being a pig or a dog?”
Pan Gong baojuan, volume 1, 18a.
The research, composition, and defense of a dissertation is itself a ritual act of faith performed by an amateur. Thankfully, experienced professionals have inspired and motivated this amateur with their exemplarity. I would not have reached this point without my dissertation committee: Judith Zeitlin and Paul Copp (co-chairs), and Jacob Eyferth and Yuming He. Like the luminaries called upon at the opening of baojuan, their presence through this process has imparted wisdom, brought down blessings, and saved me from disastrous lines of inquiry. Judith Zeitlin’s incisive judgment and exuberant encouragement have helped me to become a better thinker and writer. Paul Copp’s willingness to read even the roughest work with the aim of helping me to improve exerted a steady and encouraging influence over the project. The thoughtful conversations I’ve had with Jacob Eyferth over the years have buoyed me through some moments of great doubt and indecision. Yuming He made me fall in love with publication history and days of inky-fingered, joyous archival work are due to her cheerful influence.
My research has been sponsored by generous grants from the Fulbright Program, the Center for East Asian Studies and the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago, and the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. I have relied heavily on institutional support provided by the Writing Program’s graduate writing consultants, the staff at UChicagoGRAD and the Student Counseling Service, and my dissertation writing support groups. I am also deeply grateful for the scholars outside of the University of Chicago who so kindly dedicated their time and interest to my work. Hu Siaochen 胡曉真 welcomed and guided me during my year at the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica. Yang Yongzhi 楊永智, scholar of Taiwanese print culture and morality literature, gave generously of his time and enthusiasm, combing through this personal collection of baojuan to find sources that proved incredibly useful. I am also deeply grateful for the support of Tobie Meyer-Fong, Rania Huntington, Margaret Wan, Cynthia Brokaw, Yü Chun-fang, Beata Grant, Daniel Youd, and Rob LaFleur. Most of all, I am grateful for my high school Mandarin teacher, Gloria Kao, who laid foundations for all my work to come by believing in and challenging my language abilities.
Graduate studies are a collective ritual. I have been favored with the company of an amazing coterie of fellow devotees over the years. Anne Rebull and I have bonded over countless cups of coffee, pieces of cake, glasses of wine, reams of cat pictures, and pages of drafty prose. Her stubborn belief in my abilities has seen me through so much. I am thankful for the friendship and support of so many UChicago graduate students and faculty, individuals whose talents and intellects keep me humble, including Eric Hundman, Tom Kelly, Zhang Han, Carly Buxton, Alia Breitwieser, Alex Hsu, Allison Gray, Mandy Burton, Ariel Fox, Johanna Ransmeier, Li Yuhang, Xu Peng, Ji Young Kim, Daniel Morgan, Shengyu Wang, Jeff Tharsen, Irene Hsiao, and many others. The 2012-2013 cohort of Fulbright Taiwan student grantees – James Lin, Harmony Lu, Lillian Sie, and Jereen Kwong – also deserves special mention.
Qing morality literature has taught me how deeply indebted I am to my parents, Charlene and David, for giving me life and raising me thereafter. While I doubt that either of them ever had to break the ice on a frozen river to draw water for washing diapers, I’m sure that 1980s Kaohsiung presented them with equally taxing challenges. I can’t thank them enough for giving me Taiwan as my home. My pedagogical training began early, sitting at the back of my mother’s classroom with crayons and paper as she expertly taught university students English, and she has been my greatest cheerleader during this whole process. My father gave me a love of stories and their power to entertain and instruct (the best sermon is itself a story of grace and salvation), and delights with me in the wonders of how fun language can be. I am blessed that after many years apart since I came to America for college, my brother Grant has been near Chicago for the past six years, maturing into a good friend (and expert chemist) with the good sense to know how lucky he is to have found my wonderful soon-to-be sister-in-law Katelyn.
Gene Young has been part of my life ever since the beginning of this crazy idea that I might actually want a PhD in Chinese literature, dropping by my college dorm room with tea to support my fledging attempt at translating the Jin Ping Mei and then returning hours later to invite me out to climb trees by the river to help clear my head. Many times since then he has helped me clarify my thinking, allowing me to take advantage of his own years of graduate study in design theory and business management, and also helped me to get away from my work when I get too knotted up in it. Our cats, being creatures of small rituals like “desk-time,” “bed-time,” and “omg-bug-time,” have taught me the values of both stubborn persistence and mischievous caprice. My in-laws, Bob 爸爸, Shiaomay 媽媽, Lee, and their beloved dog Luna, adopted me into the family well before I was their daughter-in-law, and their hospitality and generosity helped to make Chicago another home for me.
Finally, I dedicate this dissertation to the exemplary figures of my grandparents, James and Genevieve Bos. My grandfather believes deeply in the value of liberal arts, and impressed upon me how the reading of a serious work on history or a pulpy mystery novel can be equally enjoyable and valuable pleasures. My grandmother taught me to crochet and knit, skills imparted to her by earlier generations of crafting women; children all over Muskegon County continue to be warmed by the gifts of her tireless needles. Throughout these years of graduate study, when my mind needed the freedom to invent new patterns of understanding the past, my hands took up yarn and hook, binding me ever closer to women, past and present, who have collectively made culture and warmth out of the strands at hand.