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Towards a New Understanding of the Late Imperial Corpora or How to Read An Anatomy of Lenses (Jingshi 鏡史), 1681

Tina Lu, Yale University

March 29, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 202 Jones Hall

East Asian Studies Program

A talk from Tina Lu, Yale University.


Although it is mentioned in other seventeenth-century texts and strongly associated with Sun Yunqiu (~1630-1662), Jingshi (compiled sometime after 1681) was only rediscovered in 2015 as one of a handful of seventeenth-century Chinese texts that allude to a Chinese-made telescope. In both halves of my project—what Jingshi isn’t and what Jingshi is—I pose the same question: what did “Sun Yunqiu” do? A version of his life that originates from the Gazetteer of Tiger Hill (Hufu zhi 虎阜志) has become commonplace: he was an inventor, and that he “spurred all the workshops of the city to fabricate glasses according to his methods and that they then spread everywhere.” I trace his contributions in both the lens-making workshop and in the book-making one. Both of these were collective ventures, depending on multiple forms of expertise. In my presentation at Princeton, I will be focusing on the second half: how a close look at Jingshi can show us what being an editor meant, an understanding of books not just as political relics but as political organisms, and the place of carvers in bookmaking.

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