During the last three decades of the Han dynasty (that is, A.D. 190-220), the imperial court collapsed and regional powers arose one after another. Cao Cao, one of most powerful warlords, established a court that attracted both military men and literary talents. “If the state had not had me, I do not know how many men might have claimed themselves emperors and kings,” he said proudly. In addition “if it had not been for the Cao court, I do not know how the literary masters would have met, and how the tradition of poetic dialogues and literary symposia would have been handed down to us.” Indeed, scholars of Chinese literature are just beginning to recognize the importance of the Cao court as a model for later Chinese literary courts.
In this talk, Hsiang-Lin Shih will introduce her approach to the poetry at the Cao court and to say something about the dynamics of literary composition during this exciting period.