This article examines two key texts from early fourteenth-century Hangzhou to explore how they shaped the process of textualization of a new genre, the so-called sanqu songs. The article argues that both of these texts, the seminal anthology of the genre, the Yangchun baixue, and the first biographical compendium, the Lugui bu, sought to uncouple social status from literary reputation to varying degrees. The article suggests that the anthology made a case for a universalist poetic practice open to diasporic and Chinese writers, while the biographical collection took a more localist approach focused on urban Chinese writers. Taken together, they illustrate that the realm of songwriting in Yuan China constituted a contested discursive space that should not be solely understood in ethnic terms but can be enriched through the analytical perspectives of diaspora, cosmopolitanism, and urban culture.

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