Spreading the Word: Woodblock Publishing Sites and Book Distribution Networks in the Qing

Colloquium: Center for Chinese Studies | February 9 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Cynthia Brokaw, History, Brown University

 Michael Nylan, History, UC Berkeley

 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

The commercial publishing boom of the late Ming was largely a regional phenomenon, as most businesses of any size were confined to the cities of Jiangnan and Jianyang (in northern Fujian). By the eighteenth century, however, the geography of commercial publishing had changed, as more and more entrepreneurs, responding to a rising demand for texts, founded important publishing operations in the interior and hinterland regions of China Proper. These businesses took many different forms. Each also developed bookselling networks of varying length and complexity, some confined to a circuit of regional markets, a few extending across much of the empire. By the nineteenth century, these networks provided the foundation for the integration of interior and hinterland regions into a China-wide book market—dominated, to be sure, by the great book bazaar of Beijing, Liulichang, but now enabling fuller textual exchange between periphery and center. Incorporating the results of recent research as well as previous fieldwork in China, “Spreading the Word” examines the impact that this exchange had on the nature of Chinese commercial book culture and considers the cultural—and to some degree the political—implications of this movement toward an integrated book market.

 ccs@berkeley.edu, 510-643-6321