Love, Betrayal, and the Fall of a Dynasty: The Poetry of the An Lushan Rebellion

What: Love, Betrayal, and the Fall of a Dynasty: The Poetry of the An Lushan Rebellion
Who: Dr. J. Michael Farmer, University of Texas at Dallas
When: Thursday, October 6, 7 pm
Where: Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture 2719 Routh St, Dallas, TX 75201


An elderly emperor bereaved of his beloved empress spies his beautiful daughter-in-law at the imperial bath house. His heart stirs, and he quickly arranges to have her brought into his harem. A foreign-born general becomes the court favorite, frolicking with the Precious Consort and other ladies of the Inner Palace. Snubbed for a promotion, the general turns his troops against his ruler and patron, plundering the capital, sending the emperor and his entourage in flight. The consort is blamed for the rebellion and killed by the imperial guards. The tragic love story of Emperor Xuanzong, his Precious Consort Yang, and the general An Lushan is also the turning point in the history of the Tang Dynasty and traditional China. Poets of the time and period immediately following wrote of these persons and events, creating some of the most powerful poetry of China’s “golden age of literature.” 

This lecture will set the historical background of the Tang Dynasty, the rebellion that brought it down, and the poetry that commemorated the event. Close readings of masterpieces of Tang poetry will be given, and translations of the poems will be provided in advance. 

Brief Bio:


Dr. J. Michael Farmer is Associate Professor of Chinese Studies, specializing in  in the literature, history, thought, and culture of early and medieval China. He holds Masters Degrees in both Chinese history and Chinese literature, and a Ph.D. in Chinese literature, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Farmer has published articles on various aspects of medieval China, including didactic illustrations in an early Chinese academy, the local historiography of medieval Sichuan, and the use of poetry in historical narrative. His book, “The Talent of Shu”, published by the State University of New York Press (2007) is a socio-intellectual history of early Sichuan told through a critical biography of a noted classicist and historian, Qiao Zhou. Dr. Farmer teaches courses on Chinese literature, history, thought, culture, and art history. He translates literary, historical, and philosophical texts from China’s early medieval period, and is engaged in a long-term project to translate the fourth century local history Huayang guo zhi [Records of the States South of Mount Hua]. Dr. Farmer has served as the Secretary-Treasurer for the T’ang Studies Society and on the Board of Directors of the Western Branch of the American Oriental Society, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the T’ang Studies Society and the editor of Early Medieval China.


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