China and Inner Asia
This panel will explore how media studies, developed to analyze the modern world, can help us to understand the complexity of mediation in the world that directly preceded it. The Ming and Qing dynasties tend to be associated with the long age of print, which is often characterized as the most advanced communicative medium of the period. Against this standard history of late imperial media, our panel takes a more capacious view of media than one delimited by woodblock print. Instead, we focus on four media – paper, money, body, and internet – in the hopes that a more granular examination of how they functioned might shed new light on the broader significance of mediation in this period.
In their papers, Kelly and Fox consider materials that are often excluded from narratives of late imperial print technologies and reading practices: the unpublished ephemera of a shopkeeper and the paper bills of private lenders. Kile and Lu then turn to printed literary works to explore how the late imperial media of human flesh and the vernacular short story might be reimagined through the deliberately anachronistic conceptual frameworks of the cyborg and the internet platform. Taken together, the papers experiment with new approaches to understanding how human life was mediated, and how it was understood as mediated, at the end of the imperial period in China.
Paper Presenter: Thomas Kelly – Harvard University
Paper Presenter: Ariel Fox – University of Chicago
Paper Presenter: S.E. Kile – University of Michigan
Paper Presenter: Tina Lu – Yale University