This thesis investigates Chinese anecdote (掌故) as a form of writing between literature and history, and mainly focuses on anecdote studies in Republican China period. There are three chapters. The first chapter is an introduction, which traces the historical origins of Chinese anecdotal writings, and clarifies the terms of Zhanggu (anecdote) and Zhang Xue (anecdote study) in the context of Chinese literary tradition. Therefore, I compare the anecdote as a cultural concept from the Western and Chinese perspectives and explain the subtle discrepancy between “anecdote” and “anecdote study”. The anecdote, however, is generally regarded as a form of anti-history and anti-fiction in the Western context, as supplemental writing that contains details left untold by orthodox writings in the Chinese tradition. It concludes that anecdote gains literariness from literature, and also historicity from the historical way of writing them. Paradoxically, its counter-history and anti-fictional traits also distinguish the genre of anecdotes from both sides.
Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 concentrate on two scholars who were seminal in establishing the study of anecdotes, Huang Qiuyue (1891-1937) and Qu Duizhi (1894-1973). From the two perspectives of chrono-poetics and geo-poetics, this thesis analyses their anecdotes by employing the cultural poetics and memory theories. I argue that together they reveal that the tradition of anecdotes is possibly a hidden tradition between history and literature, affects and blurs the boundary of the two. Notably, the anecdotes written by the Republican scholars functioned as a transfer station in the grey zone between the archaic and the modern.