Anna M. Shields is Professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University and the author of One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China, published by Harvard Asia Center (2015) and winner of the 2017 AAS Honorable Mention for the Levenson Book Prize (pre-1900).
To begin with, please tell us what your book is about.
My book explores mid-Tang [Dynasty] literature in order to understand the complex value mid-Tang writers discovered in friendship―as a rewarding social practice, a rich literary topic, a way to negotiate literati identity, and a path toward self-understanding. I look at the evolution of the performance of friendship in a wide range of genres, including letters, prefaces, exchange poetry, and funerary texts, and I translate and explicate dozens of texts. The book follows the life-course of mid-Tang literati men, from youthful competition in the exams through career vicissitudes to death and commemoration.
What inspired you to research this topic?
I was ...