April 4, 2017
1 map
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
1 Pounds (US)
$50.00 USD, £40.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Paperback / softback
September 6, 2019
5 illus.
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
.8 Pounds (US)
$30.00 USD, £22.99 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Symptoms of an Unruly Age

Li Zhi and Cultures of Early Modernity

Symptoms of an Unruly Age compares the writings of Li Zhi (1527–1602) and his late-Ming compatriots to texts composed by their European contemporaries, including Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Cervantes. Emphasizing aesthetic patterns that transcend national boundaries, Rivi Handler-Spitz explores these works as culturally distinct responses to similar social and economic tensions affecting early modern cultures on both ends of Eurasia.

The paradoxes, ironies, and self-contradictions that pervade these works are symptomatic of the hypocrisy, social posturing, and counterfeiting that afflicted both Chinese and European societies at the turn of the seventeenth century. Symptoms of an Unruly Age shows us that these texts, produced thousands of miles away from one another, each constitute cultural manifestations of early modernity.

About the Author

Rivi Handler-Spitz is associate professor of Chinese language and literature at Macalester College.


"Handler-Spitz sets herself two discrete tasks: to describe societies that were undergoing critical, parallel changes; and to justify the comparative approach itself... As Handler-Spitz makes clear, simply recognizing the parallels can safeguard us from inappropriately narrow, single-culture-specific notions of causality."—Katherine Carlitz, Journal of Asian Studies

"Symptoms of an Unruly Age will become indispensable reading for any serious China scholar looking for amodel of how to write China into a global context or hoping to understand Li Zhi from a fresh and compelling perspective."—Maram Epstein, Modern Philology

"Symptoms of an Unruly Age beautifully captures Li Zhi's late-Ming world and the anxiety that world provoked, not by introducing startlingly new themes to those of us already familiar with the period, but by weaving them together and exploring them in new and nuanced ways."—Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews


"One of those rare books that put different individuals from different cultures and languages, their lives and ideas, their writings and complex interactions with their times, into a global context that reveals astonishing affinities where least expected, across huge gaps of the usual East/West divide."—Zhang Longxi, author of From Comparison to World Literature

"A bold book. Rivi Handler-Spitz brilliantly shows that Montaigne and Postel were not alone in the world in thinking that they were living in an age of uncertainty. Li Zhi and others in Ming China were struggling with many of the same doubts about language and value."—Timothy Brook, author of The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties

University of Washington Press

9780295741505 : symptoms-of-an-unruly-age-handler-spitz
256 Pages
$50.00 USD
9780295746135 : symptoms-of-an-unruly-age-handler-spitz
Paperback / softback
256 Pages
$30.00 USD

Other Titles by Rivi Handler-Spitz

The Objectionable Li Zhi

edited by Rivi Handler-Spitz, Pauline C. Lee, Haun Saussy, OtherHaiyang Li
Jan 2021 - University of Washington Press
$99.00 USD - Hardback
$30.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in HISTORY / Asia / China

Garden of Eloquence / Shuoyuan

Liu Xiang, translated by Eric Henry, introduction by Eric Henry
Jan 2022 - University of Washington Press
$125.00 USD - Hardback

Temples in the Cliffside

Sonya S. Lee
Dec 2021 - University of Washington Press
$65.00 USD - Hardback

Crusaders Against Opium

Kathleen L. Lodwick
Dec 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$40.00 USD - Electronic book text
$25.00 USD - Paperback / softback