Text, Context, and Acts
A Symposium on Chinese Popular Religion in Practice
September 29-30, 2018
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
428 Rush-Rhees Library
University of Rochester
The starting point of this workshop is texts: texts in written, spoken, and visual forms such as vernacular liturgical manuals, folklore, stelae, and rock reliefs. It aims at exploring Chinese religious beliefs and practices from the perspective of popular religion. Discussions on institutional religions are not excluded since they arguably wield influence on popular religion and vice versa. While the workshop will give the methodological priority to texts, our focus is not the intellectual “metadiscourses” but an apprehension of ordinary practitioners’ beliefs and practices.
Texts imply context. Studying texts entails studying the contexts in which they are composed, reproduced, dissimilated, and received. The workshop will expound, insofar as possible, how text came into being; how it took the form(s) in which we find it; how it was made public; and how it was received.
Reception is not a passive acceptance but an active engagement. A reader is actively involved in interpreting a text upon receiving it. The interpretation is the reader’s own choice. In the meantime, the choice was formed with impacts from the context in which he or she lives. Furthermore, reception should also be understood as to include the impacts texts produced. While the intended meaning of a text is surely “picked and chosen” by the audience at reading, watching, and hearing through their own frameworks of experience. Such experience is in a large portion shaped by society. Texts express both authorial intention and social interaction. What is equally important is that their reception of the texts would also change their framework of experience.