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By Iona Man-Cheong

The category of 1761 unearths the workings of China's imperial exam method from the original viewpoint of a unmarried graduating classification. the writer follows the scholars' struggles in negotiating the exam procedure besides bureaucratic intrigue and highbrow clash, in addition to their careers around the Empire—to the battlefields of imperial growth in Annam and Tibet, the records the place the glories of the empire have been compiled, and again to the chambers the place they in flip grew to become examiners for the following iteration of aspirants.The publication explores the trials and flexibilities of the exam procedure because it disciplined males for political existence and exhibits how the process legitimated either the Manchu throne and the bulk non-Manchu elite. within the system's intricately articulated networks, we determine the soundness of the Qing empire and the fault traces that will develop to destabilize it.

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Additional resources for The Class of 1761: Examinations, State, and Elites in Eighteenth-Century China

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Competition at this level was intense, as shown by the few figures we do have. 17 Thus, after having undergone years of rigorous disciplinary training, the candidate for the provincial examination was faced with formidable odds against his passing. The pressure of almost overwhelming competition was added to the round of regular and frequent testtaking. We have no record of the number of attempts at the provincial degree for the 1761 cohort as a whole, but we can get some idea of the range from the cases of Wang Jie (1/1), the top-ranked metropolitan graduate, and Zhao Yi (1/3), who ultimately placed third.

This basic impetus remained part of the logic of the state’s use of the examination system, although there was no longer an imminent threat to centralized government. For elite families, the continued opportunity for individual political power merited acceptance of the examination system; family success could always be negotiated. Contrary to earlier studies of Chinese social mobility, I hold that examinations did not merely adopt a gatekeeper function. The social elite did not depend on the state for its actual existence; it did, however, need the throne to acknowledge its political leadership.

Besides the role that the examinations played for the structuration of state power, examination training also participated in the imposition of the necessary disciplinary regime to which all aspirants to political power had to subject themselves. Principles of government, political ethics, cultural knowledge, and social adeptness were all expected. This training instilled an esprit de corps that, though it might be modified by the push and pull of subsequent loyalties, formed the basic unifying ideology of the administration.

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