Session Abstract: Early modern East Asia witnessed an explosion of textual production, from manuscripts to woodblock and movable type prints. Increased availability of books posed new challenges to compilers and readers who sought comprehensiveness in a sea of information. This panel explores the ways in which textual production in the early modern age required new modes of classifying, compiling, and categorizing knowledge. The rise of new paratextual and organizational methods has typically been understood in terms of technological and social factors specific to the early modern West. By comparing practices across East Asia from multiple methodological perspectives, we aim to raise questions about the relationships between texts, authors, and audiences that can be more broadly generalized to the early modern world. What were the convergences and disjunctions among notions of knowledge organization in China, Japan, Korea, and Inner Asia? How did vernacular practices translate and transform Chinese models? What effects did these textual practices have on the experience of readers? Oh examines a set of Chosǒn encyclopedias, which created a new knowledge order for comprehending the universe. Söderblom Saarela and He explore the classification and description of plants and animals in a set of eighteenth-century Qing court-commissioned encyclopedic texts as a reflection of a hybrid Manchu-Chinese natural history. Vedal investigates the instructions for use embedded within an influential late Ming encyclopedia, shedding light on how contemporary readers employed these massive compilations of information. Yonemoto will comment on these papers from the perspective of her research on Tokugawa textual culture.
Paper Presenter: Nathan Vedal – Washington University in St. Louis
Paper Presenter: Young Kyun Oh – Arizona State University
Paper Presenter: He Bian – Princeton University
Co-author: Mårten Söderblom Saarela – Academia Sinica