Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: The Way of the Idle Men: Leisure and Daily Life of Bannermen in Qing Beijing, 1750-1900
Authors: Zheng, Bingyu
Advisors: Elman, Benjamin A
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Bannerman
Qing history
Subjects: Asian history
Asian literature
Asian studies
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The Eight Banners of the Manchus was once a formidable military force that conquered China and created one of the greatest empires in Asian history. By the nineteenth century, however, many bannermen were no longer recognized for their prowess on the battlefield, and instead became notorious for their obsession with poetry and theater. This dissertation investigates this transformation from these people’s own perspective, seeking to understand why these people made the choices that led them to be labeled as “idle” and “lazy” in late Qing political discourse and modern scholarship. Through this study, I reexamine the role of the bannermen in latter half of the Qing Dynasty, arguing that they should not just be considered as political symbols of the failures of the Manchu regime, but as individuals who were driven by sociopolitical circumstances to forge new paths in their lives. Focusing on the capital of the Qing Empire, Beijing, this dissertation utilizes a diverse set of sources produced in both Manchu and Chinese languages, including state documents, diaries, pedagogical texts, novels, poems, and ballads. I will begin by explicating the Qing state’s conception of the term “idle,” and its futile efforts to control a growing population of “idle” bannermen. Then I will explore how the bannermen sought to solve their financial problems through establishing social networks that offered mutual support. After that, I will study the literary production of the bannermen and show how they sought to find self-fulfillment outside of the state framework through their creative pursuits. Lastly, I will investigate the bannermen’s immersion into the world of popular entertainment in the capital, showing how they were able to achieve fame and fortune through the invention and public performance of their own musical genres.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Zheng_princeton_0181D_12622.pdf1.47 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.