Ariel Fox, PhD
My work explores the intersection of literary and economic imaginaries in late imperial China. I am particularly interested in the ways in which literary genres helped late imperial audiences understand and negotiate an emergent global economy. My dissertation focused on a group of playwrights active in mid-seventeenth century Suzhou whose plays map the moral and affective terrains of an increasingly monetized and commercialized society. In my current book project, tentatively titled Commercial Acts: Money, Merchants, and Markets in Late Imperial Chinese Drama, I expand on this work by examining how the performance of commerce both on and off the seventeenth-century stage made possible the imagination of new loci of power outside of the imperial state.
I am currently working on several projects that engage with problems of money and meaning across a range of genres. In one project, I examine transformations of money into man and man into money in narratives from the Six Dynasties to the early Qing. Another project explores the cornucopia as object and idea in late imperial literary, visual, and material culture. I am also broadly interested in the economics of entertainment, the figure of the merchant in literary and philosophical discourse, and narrative and cartographic representations of overseas travel.