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Moralism, Fundamentalism, and the Rhetoric of Decline in Eurasia, 1600–1900

A two-day core conference at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library organized by Clark Professors Andrea S. Goldman and Gabriel Piterberg, (UCLA)

Friday, November 16, 2012
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron St.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

The Clark and Center core program for 2012–2013 explores responses to crises and upheavals in early modern landed empires, with special focus on the Ottoman and Qing empires. In particular, we will investigate the perceptions of temporary collapses of state power in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Detecting tendencies toward moralism and perceived decline in elite discourses and state policies, we will look at the ways such concerns were expressed in the domains of institutional and educational reforms, sexual mores, and cultural representation. We will also examine how social boundaries were both rigidified and contested at such moments of transition. We hope to discern shared patterns across Eurasia as well as trajectories specific to each political entity.

Session 1—Moralism and the Rhetoric of Decline in Seventeenth-Century Eurasia

The background for this conference is the sixteenth-century price revolution in Eurasia and the attendant political and social crises of the first half of the seventeenth century. It will focus on two phenomena.  The first is the religious movements and discourses of moral purification, which ranged from sexual mores to people’s attire when they appeared in the public domain. Papers on this theme will consider whether this may have been a reaction to what Walter Andrews has termed the "age of beloveds." The second phenomenon is the proliferation of literatures of decline, in which bureaucrats and intellectuals tried to diagnose what was wrong with their states and societies, and to prescribe solutions accordingly.  Papers on this topic will go beyond the limitations of content analysis and positivist reading, and will consider its social, literary and rhetorical dimensions.

Registration Deadline: November 9, 2012

Please click here for a printable registration form.

Registration Fees: $20 per person; UC faculty & staff, students with ID: no charge*

All students, UC faculty and staff may register via e-mail by sending their name, affiliation and phone number to

*Students should be prepared to provide their current University ID at the conference.

Complimentary lunch and other refreshments are provided to all registrants.

Please be aware that space at the Clark is limited and that registration closes when capacity is reached. Confirmation will be sent via email.


SCHEDULE: Friday, November 16th


9:30 a.m.

Morning Coffee and Registration


10:00 a.m.

Barbara Fuchs, University of California, Los Angeles Welcome

Andrea S. Goldman and Gabriel Piterberg, University of California, Los Angeles
Opening Remarks

Session 1: Decline Across Seventeenth-Century Eurasia Revisited
Chair: Gabriel Piterberg, University of California, Los Angeles

Linda T. Darling, University of Arizona
The Ottoman Decline Literature as a Social Phenomenon: An Interim Report

Siyen Fei, University of Pennsylvania
Late Ming Urban Decline: Myth or Reality?

Discussant: Zirwat Chowdhury, Ahmanson-Getty Fellow

12:10 p.m.


1:15 p.m.

Session 2: Piety and Crisis across Seventeenth-Century Eurasia
Chair: Sebouh Aslanian, University of California, Los Angeles

Derin Terzioğlu, Boğaziçi University
Piety in a Disenchanted World: 'Sunnitizing' Sufi Preachers and the Crisis of the Ottoman State in the Early Seventeenth Century

Jiang Wu, University of Arizona
Chinese Zen Monk Yinyuan (1592–1673) and the Authenticity Crisis in Early Modern East Asia

Discussant: Spencer Jackson, Ahmanson-Getty Fellow

3:15 p.m.

Coffee Break

3:30 p.m.

Session 3: Morality and Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century Eurasia
Chair: Charlotte Furth, Professor Emerita, University of Southern California

Nir Shafir, University of California, Los Angeles
Nasihat and Knowledge: Moral and Knowledge Order in Seventeenth-  Century Ottoman Advice Manuals

John R. Williams, Colorado College
Moralizing Fortune: Examination Discourse and Dynastic Change in Seventeenth-Century China

Discussant: Ying Zhang, Visiting Scholar, University of California, Los Angeles

5:30 p.m.



Sponsor(s): , Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies

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