Chinese Encyclopedias for Everyday Life (Wanbao quanshu 萬寶全書): Texts and Readers

Heidelberg University, April 28-30 2016



Joan Judge, York University

Joachim Kurtz, Heidelberg University

Barbara Mittler, Heidelberg University


Chinese encyclopedias for everyday life—literally “comprehensive compendia of countless treasures”—(wanbao quanshu 萬寶全書 ) have been an integral and as yet poorly understood component of Chinese knowledge culture from the sixteenth through the early twentieth centuries. This workshop will advance understanding of these compendia by examining both their content and their form, and by probing questions related to their consumption and readership. Its focus will be on the little studied last stage of revision of these encyclopedias in the early twentieth century when “new” (Western) knowledge and new (Western-derived) media provoked a communication revolution that was pivotal to the 1911 Revolution which ended two millennia of Chinese imperial rule.

The twelve workshop participants who include scholars from Germany, Taiwan, the United States, and Canada, will consider two main clusters of questions in their papers. First, what does a close reading of Chinese encyclopedias for daily life reveal about late imperial (1500-1911) and early Republican (1912-49) knowledge cultures and modes of knowing? This will include an examination of the sources for the compilations, the genres of materials they include, omissions and additions over time, and intersections between texts, illustrations, and diagrams. Second, how we can contextualize these materials and begin to sketch their readership. This will involve closely reading the texts and their paratexts, examining their materiality, and situating them in the broader publishing world.



Prof. Joan Judge
York University, 2122 Vari Hall
4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3

Prof. Joachim Kurtz
Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies
Voßstraße 2, Building 4400
69115 Heidelberg

Prof. Barbara Mittler
Institute of Chinese Studies
Akademiestraße 4-8
69117 Heidelberg

Georges Jacoby
Tel.: +49 6221 54 4362
Fax: +49 6221 54 4012

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Letzte Änderung: 21.03.2016
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