Rare book course: The Book in Ming China: History & Analysis - applications now open

Princeton, January 8, 2024:

Applications are now open for a special rare book summer course of the Rare Book School, University of Virginia which will be held in Princeton in July 2024.


The Book in Ming China: History & Analysis

by Martin Heijdra, He Bian, Soren Edgren

Course Length: 30 hours
Course Week: 21–26 July 2024

Format: in person, Princeton University in Princeton, NJ
Fee: This seminar is supported by a generous grant from the James P. Geiss and Margaret Y. Hsu Foundation.
All admitted students will receive a scholarship to cover the full cost of tuition.
Organizer: Rare Book School, University of Virginia

This course is intended for scholars in History, Literature, Art, Religion, or other fields, already familiar with Ming studies, who are looking to get ideas for their current or future research projects. The course will introduce the collection of some 2,000 Ming editions held at the East Asian Library and elsewhere in the Princeton University Library system. Princeton’s collection of books published during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 CE) is unique in the world in its breadth and depth of coverage, with special strengths in Buddhism, literary compilations, and medical and other scientific texts. Participants will have the chance to investigate opportunities for research in Princeton’s East Asian Rare Books Collection and generate ideas for current and future research projects in Ming Studies.

The morning sessions will offer an abbreviated history of books in China from the beginning of book production in East Asia during the first millennium BCE until the end of the twentieth century. In addition to describing the physical aspects of traditional Chinese books and their evolution over many centuries, the class will also explore their social and cultural roles as bearers of text and transmitters of knowledge within the context of China’s long and complex history. Subjects treated will include the invention of paper, manuscript culture, woodblock printing and the forms of movable type, book forms and format, commercial and non-commercial publishing, languages and script in publications, texts vs. paratexts, and the wave of Western influences on the Chinese book beginning in the nineteenth century.

Afternoons will be focused on the actual holdings of Ming editions in Princeton, in particular its Gest Collection. The class will begin by introducing the basic characteristics of Ming books, including regional and genre-specific patterns of book production between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. Participants will then be presented with a wide representative variety of both known major works and more ordinary items of the wider field of Ming editions.

The course is open to all applicants from advanced Ph.D. students to established scholars who can make a case that they would benefit from the class. Knowledge of the Chinese language and the Ming Studies field in general are required. Toward the end of the class, participants will give a preliminary report of their findings and plans for future research.

Application at: https://rarebookschool.org/courses/history/h145/

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