City of Virtues

Nanjing in an Age of Utopian Visions

Chuck Wooldridge

  • Published: 2015. Paperback March 2017
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; History
  • Bibliographic information: 256 pp., 3 maps, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Throughout Nanjing's history, writers have claimed that its spectacular landscape of mountains and rivers imbued the city with "royal qi," making it a place of great political significance. City of Virtues examines the ways a series of visionaries, drawing on past glories of the city, projected their ideologies onto Nanjing as they constructed buildings, performed rituals, and reworked the literary heritage of the city. More than an urban history of Nanjing from the late 18th century until 1911 - encompassing the Opium War, the Taiping occupation of the city, the rebuilding of the city by Zeng Guofan, and attempts to establish it as the capital of the Republic of China - this study shows how utopian visions of the cosmos shaped Nanjing's path through the turbulent 19th century.
Chuck Wooldridge is assistant professor of history at Lehman College, City University of New York, and codirector of the Modern China Seminar, Columbia University.

"The book makes an important contribution . . . and fits nicely into a growing body of recent scholarship that is reevaluating nineteenth-century China in general and mid-century rebellions in particular."
-Steven B. Miles, author of The Sea of Learning: Mobility and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Guangzhou

"This is good work, well executed, and the product of years of skilled research. It connects to several areas of recent interest in the field: urban history, the Taiping civil war, political culture, and the relationship between literary landscape and other geographies."
-Tobie Meyer-Fong, author of What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in Nineteenth-Century China

Reign Dates of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

Introduction: An Age of Utopian Visions
1. The Qianlong Emperor's Tours of the Imperial City, 1751-84
2. Literati Politics in the Early Nineteenth Century
3. Wang Shiduo's Flight from the New Jerusalem, 1853-64
4. Zeng Guofan's Construction of a Ritual Center, 1864-72
5. Chen Zuolin Reassembles the Poetic City, 1872-1912
Conclusion: Elements of Utopia

Abbreviations Used in the Notes

"Skillfully demonstrates how different political movements altered the cityscape - both physically and semantically - to project their utopian visions. . . . A carefully crafted work."
-Carl Kilcourse, China Quarterly

"The publication of City of Virtues is doubly welcome: valuable on its own merits, the book contributes significantly to two vital bodies of historiography on modern China. . . . All interested in Qing and Republican history and urban studies will enjoy and profit from reading Wooldridge's stimulating, smart book."
-Peter J. Carroll, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies