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Encountering China by
Encountering China addresses the responses of early modern travelers to China who, awed by the wealth and sophistication of the society they encountered, attempted primarily to build bridges, to explore similarities, and to emulate the Chinese, though they were also critical of some local traditions and practices. Contributors engage critically with travelogues, treating them not just as occasional sources of historical information but as primary, literary texts deeply revelatory of the world they describe. Contributors reach back to the earliest European writings available on China in an effort to broaden and nuance our understanding of European contact with the Middle Kingdom in the early modern period. While the primary focus of these essays is the external gaze - European sources about China - contributors also tease out aspects of the Chinese world-view of the time, thus generating a conversation between Chinese literary and historical texts and European ones.
Publication Date: 2012
Performing China by
China in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was a model of economic and political strength, viewed by many as the greatest empire in the world. While the importance of China to eighteenth-century English consumer culture is well documented, less so is its influence on English values. Through a careful study of the literature, drama, philosophy, and material culture of the period, this book articulates how Chinese culture influenced English ideas about virtue. Discourses of virtue were significantly shaped by the intensified trade with the East Indies. Chi-ming Yang focuses on key forms of virtue--heroism, sincerity, piety, moderation, sensibility, and patriotism--whose meanings and social importance developed in the changing economic climate of the period. She highlights the ways in which English understandings of Eastern values transformed these morals. The book is organized by type of performance--theatrical, ethnographic, and literary--and by performances of gender, identity fraud, and religious conversion. In her analysis of these works, Yang brings to light surprising connections between figures as disparate as Confucius and a Chinese Amazon and between cultural norms as far removed as Hindu reincarnation and London coffeehouse culture. Part of a new wave of cross-disciplinary scholarship, where Chinese studies meets the British eighteenth century, this novel work will appeal to scholars in a number of fields, including performance studies, East Asian studies, British literature, cultural history, gender studies, and postcolonial studies.
Publication Date: 2011
The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 by
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries China, Japan and the Spice Islands dazzled the English imagination as insatiable markets for European goods, and as vast, inexhaustible storehouses of spices and luxury wares. Robert Markley explores the significance of attitudes to the wealth and power of East Asia in rethinking conceptions of national and personal identity in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century English literature. Alongside works by canonical English authors, this study examines the writings of Jesuit missionaries, Dutch merchants, and English and continental geographers, who directly contended with the challenges that China and Japan posed to visions of western cultural and technological superiority. Questioning conventional Eurocentric histories, in this 2006 book Markley examines the ways in which the writings of Milton, Dryden, Defoe and Swift deal with the complexities of a world in which England was marginalised and which, until 1800, was dominated - economically at least - by the empires of the Far East.
Publication Date: 2009