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Products for grant FT-270454-20

FT-270454-20
The Category of Everything: Ordering and Circulating Knowledge in Early Modern China
Nathan Vedal, Washington University in St. Louis

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-270454-20

Reading the Encyclopedia: Instructions for Use in Late Imperial Chinese Compilations (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Reading the Encyclopedia: Instructions for Use in Late Imperial Chinese Compilations
Author: Nathan Vedal
Abstract: Encyclopedic texts and reference works played a central role in managing and circulating textual information in the wake of the sixteenth-century publishing boom in China. Innovations in finding devices within such genres have often been associated with the rise of “consultation reading,” which allowed a reader to access the material contained within efficiently and without having to wade through excessive textual material. This paper will suggest that “consultation reading” was only one of multiple strategies employed by late imperial Chinese readers in their use of encyclopedic texts. I focus here on Fang Yizhi’s (1611–1671) Comprehensive Elegances (Tongya), a major encyclopedic text of the seventeenth century. The organizational structure of the text would have allowed for consultation of specific entries, but instructions for use in the paratextual material and embedded within the entries themselves indicate that the text may also have been designed to be read sequentially, almost as one would read a novel or treatise. This sequential mode of reading is evident in the instructions for use in numerous other contemporary “reference works,” such as dictionaries. By highlighting the multiple methods of reading proposed in late imperial encyclopedic compilations, I highlight the literary appeal of encyclopedic information for contemporary readers and reconsider the role of such texts in the period’s literary and intellectual life.
Date: 3/22/2021
Conference Name: Association for Asian Studies

For More Information, Keep Reading: How to Use a Late Imperial Chinese Encyclopedia (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: For More Information, Keep Reading: How to Use a Late Imperial Chinese Encyclopedia
Author: Nathan Vedal
Abstract: Late imperial China 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. One of the primary arenas for managing and circulating information was the production of a variety of encyclopedic genres and reference works. Innovations in finding devices within such genres have often been associated with the rise of “consultation reading.” But was piecemeal consultation the only way to use encyclopedic reference works? Or could an encyclopedia be read cover to cover like a novel? This talk considers the reading strategies suggested in Fang Yizhi’s 方以智(1611–1671) Tongya (通雅 Comprehensive Elegances), a major encyclopedic text of the seventeenth century. Despite the potential of this text to be consulted for specific information, its entries may also have been designed to be read sequentially. Numerous other contemporary “reference works,” such as dictionaries, invited sequential reading, as well. By highlighting the multiple modes of reading proposed in late imperial encyclopedic compilations, I reposition the place of such texts in the period’s literary and intellectual life.
Date: 2/24/2021
Conference Name: Princeton University, East Asian Program

Philology of the Strange: Evidential Learning and Commentary on Liaozhai zhiyi in the Nineteenth Century (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Philology of the Strange: Evidential Learning and Commentary on Liaozhai zhiyi in the Nineteenth Century
Author: Nathan Vedal
Abstract: Nineteenth-century annotators of Liaozhai zhiyi invoked contemporary trends in classical and poetic reading to the analysis of this collection of strange tales.
Date: 3/15/2021
Conference Name: Institute for Advanced Study – School of Historical Studies East Asian Seminar

The Manchu Reading of Jinpingmei: Glossing, Script, and Encyclopedism in the Early Eighteenth Century (Article)
Title: The Manchu Reading of Jinpingmei: Glossing, Script, and Encyclopedism in the Early Eighteenth Century
Author: Nathan Vedal
Abstract: This manuscript examines the notorious, but little-studied Manchu translation of Jinpingmei. I argue that this translation frames the novel as an encyclopedic locus of translingual erudition, embodied in the philological reading aids provided throughout the text. The forms of commentary contained within shed new light on Manchu reading practices, and allow for a comparison with approaches to Sinitic writing across early modern East Asia.
Year: 2021
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Late Imperial China


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