Session Chair, “The Material Text in East Asia: Local Traditions and Intercultural Dialogue”
Sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of America, this session investigates the special significance of Chinese textual objects in intercultural and historiographic perspective. Books include a Song dynasty catalogue of inscribed ritual artifacts from the ancient past that served to promote political legitimacy in the present, and a Japanese travel guide to China that adapted Chinese illustrations to create the appearance of authentic experience at a time when China was closed off from Japan. Other textual objects include ink rubbings of calligraphy inscribed in stone, and ceramic pillows ornamented with lines from popular drama and lyric song that are often the only surviving traces of works once enjoyed by the masses. Both the ink rubbings and the ceramic pillows are considered in relation to the twentieth-century Euro-American collecting practices that brought many of these textual objects out of China. The interplay between intellectual history and aesthetic appreciation thus provides a focus for analyzing subsequent adaptations and interpretations of the Chinese material text.