One of the most famous rulers in Chinese history, the Yongle emperor (r. 1402–24) gained renown for constructing Beijing’s Forbidden City, directing ambitious naval expeditions, and creating the world’s largest encyclopedia. On May 6, art historian Aurelia Campbell will take us from the heart of Beijing, to a Daoist architectural complex on Mount Wudang, to offer insight into Yongle’s sense of empire and discuss legacy of China’s greatest builder.
Aurelia Campbell is Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Film at Boston College. Her research centers on the architecture and material culture of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing periods in China. Campbell’s first book, What the Emperor Built: Architecture and Empire in the Early Ming (University of Washington Press, 2020) examines the construction projects of the famous Yongle emperor to consider how imperial ideology is given form in built space. Addressing how and why his buildings were constructed, the book expands our understanding of “imperial Chinese architecture” as a building typology. Her research has been supported through grants and fellowships from Millard Meiss Publication Fund, James Geiss Foundation, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Asian Cultural Council, and Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies, among others.