Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Asian Languages and Civilizations, Cornell University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
Writing for Print: A Literatus-Publisher of Seventeenth-Century China

My dissertation explores the role of literati-publishers in the production, circulation, and reception of books in seventeenth-century China. At a time when print was becoming the dominant and conventional mode of transmitting literary writings, but when manuscript circulation was still a tenable mode of transmission, the question arises as to why the literati would decide to have their writing printed rather than being transcribed. What were the social, cultural, and technical expectations that made them choose print instead of manuscript? And did these expectations reshape the meanings of writing, reading, and literati identity? If so, how were they different from the ones for manuscript and why was it significant at this particular historical period? My project will address these issues through a specific case study of a literatus-publisher of the seventeenth century, Zhang Chao and his coterie. In his publishing endeavors, Zhang Chao was acutely aware of the different values and functions of print and manuscript, and consciously appropriated them. Through close examination on his printed books and publishing activities, I hope to show that print should not be interpreted simplistically as an independent technological phenomenon, but be understood as one of several modes of transmission that embody the complex social, cultural, and political interactions of its specific historical context.