China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel explores the ways in which publishers and editors shaped and were shaped by evolving readerships and fields of knowledge in late imperial China. On the one hand, social and political changes led new reading markets to which publishers and editors responded for commercial gain. On the other hand, these producers brought innovations and further expansion of these reading markets, creating new genres and formats. Publishing was thus a driving force in the formation of new bodies of knowledge, shifting forms of social discourse, and changing social communities and identities.
Xie Yifeng’s paper examines the 12th-century encyclopedia, Brocade of the Valley of Myriad Flowers (Jinxiu Wanhuagu錦綉萬花谷), as a window into the world of knowledge among the lower ranks of Southern Song literati. Peter Ditmanson’s paper examines the publishing enterprise of the Hua clan of Wuxi, whose eclectic production served a broadening reading market in Suzhou in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. He Zhaohui’s paper explores the production of works on government institutions and procedures in 16th- and 17th-century Ming China, and the evolving accessibility, circulation and readership of these materials. Chen Xiao’s paper explores the circulation of legal case books in the 18th-century and spread of legal knowledge among readers in the Qing dynasty. Together these papers examine the interplay between producers and consumers of knowledge, and the spread of information in late imperial China.