Yuan Ming Yuan: Garden of Perfect Brightness
a presentation by
Dr. Lillian Li, Professor Emerita of Chinese History, Swarthmore College
Saturday, February 1, 2014
PSU campus, Urban Plaza Bldg, Room 250 (506 SW Mill St.)
Discover the Yuan Ming Yuan / Garden of Perfect Brightness (or Old Summer Palace) -- a name which recalls one of China's most iconic monuments -- built in the 18th and early 19th centuries in Beijing, as a residence and garden paradise on earth for the Qing Dynasty emperors. Its importance lies in the fact that it was an imperial palace and garden that was almost completely pillaged and destroyed by British and French troops in 1860. As such, it has become a symbol of China's subjugation at the hands of foreign powers in the 19th century, and hence a focal point of modern Chinese nationalism. Ironically its very power as a symbol rests in its physical invisibility as there is almost nothing to see except the ruins of European palaces that formed one small part of the entire garden. Yet, the YuanMingYuan remains everywhere in the Chinese national consciousness.
Free & open to the public.