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Dean of the College presents

Print Industrialism, Cultural Authority, and the Making of the Modern Chinese Intellectual
- A Faculty Seminar Presented by Robert Culp

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The end of the civil service examination system in 1905 and the imperial order in 1911 generated a crisis for China’s Confucian literati. The close partnership, formed over centuries, between the imperial state and the literati was collapsing, even as China’s moral and cultural orders were challenged by the influx of new systems of knowledge from the West. This talk explores how China’s literate elite during the first half of the twentieth century found gainful employment in the rapidly expanding, industrialized publishing sector and used it to preserve their social status, transform Chinese culture, and re-establish their cultural authority and influence in a period of transition. 

Three groups of literate elites dominated work in the editorial departments of the major Chinese presses (Commercial Press, Zhonghua Book Company, and World Books): late Qing literati during the 1900s and 1910s; the first generation of foreign-trained academics in the 1920s; and the first generations of Chinese college and high school graduates from the 1920s onward. Each group transformed the dynamics of cultural production in editorial departments, which by the 1930s operated on principles of division of labor and flow production that mirrored the industrial labor process more generally. Through creative engagement in the publishing process, these three kinds of editors and compilers were able to influence the trajectory of cultural change in early twentieth-century China while helping to define what it meant to be a Chinese intellectual. At the same time, all three groups had to adjust, in various ways, to the demands of market-oriented cultural production.

 Please join us at 6:30pm for a reception prior to the event in the Olin Atrium.   


For more information, call 845-758-7490, or e-mail jcerulli@bard.edu.

Location: Olin, Room 102