China and Inner Asia
This panel brings the discourse of experiential art history—which encourages us to expand our view of how objects produce effects and experiences—into concert with the growing field of the history of the material book. Books in various formats were a pervasive presence in the material life of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Previous studies of book history in Ming-Qing China have often focused on economies of print and the book's role in disseminating knowledge and creating shared culture. Yet little attention has been paid to untangle the range of experiences attached to viewing and handling books. Our panel reframes these concerns and shifts our discussion toward an understanding of books as affective objects designed to “think with” beholders.
Conceiving the book broadly to include illuminated religious books, painting and calligraphy albums, and stone books paired with rubbings, we seek to conceptualize the wide range of possibilities of how beholders related to books, not only in the visual realm, but also in terms of other sensory, visceral, bodily, material, and perceptual practices. Collectively, we apply this discourse to four object-based studies rooted in specific socio-cultural landscapes during the Ming and Qing. Our papers span issues of the religious efficacy of illustration, gendered devotional practice, construction of narrative contingency, and the epigraphic aesthetic. In doing so, our panel explores overlooked possibilities of embodied experiences of books, and demonstrates how these experiences can contribute to a broader understanding of reading practices and of material culture in late imperial China.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Bryce Heatherly – University of Pennsylvania
Virtual Paper Presenter: Soohyun Yoon – Duke University
Virtual Paper Presenter: Mo D. Zhang – University of Pennsylvania
Virtual Paper Presenter: Michael J. Hatch – Miami University, Ohio