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Week 19: Gutenberg in Shanghai

Seminar Questions

  • What were the aims of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China?
  • What role did Chinese assistants play in the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge?
  • What difficulties did printers face in nineteenth-century China?
  • How did Christianity and trade shape the use of print in nineteenth-century China?

Seminar Readings

** ‘Introduction’, The Chinese Repository, 1 (1833), 1-5

** ‘Religious Intelligence’, The Chinese Repository, 1 (1833), 25-28

** ‘Journal of Occurrences’, The Chinese Repository, ­1 (1833), 29-32.

** Proceedings Relative to the Formation of a Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China (Canton, 1835), 5-13

** A Chinese Chrestomathy in the Canton Dialect (Macao, 1841), i-xxxvi

* Chen, Song-Chuan, ‘An Information War Waged by Merchants and Missionaries at Canton: The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China, 1834–1839’, Modern Asian Studies, 46 (2012)

* Edgren, J.S., ‘China’, in Suarez, Michael and H. R. Woudhuysen (eds), The Book: A Global History (Oxford University Press, 2013)

NB. You are not expected to read Chinese. Do not be intimated by the appearance of Chinese characters or worry about trying to understand it. We are simply interested in how Europeans engaged with, understood and categorised the Chinese language and nation.

Additional Readings


The Chinese Repository, vols 1-20, (1833-1851), available online via Bibliotecha Sinica

A Chinese Chrestomathy in the Canton Dialect (Macao, 1841)

Davis, John, The Chinese: a General Description of the Empire of China and Its Inhabitants (London, 1836)

Williams, Samuel Wells, The Chinese Commercial Guide (Canton, 1856)

Williams, Samuel Wells, The Middle Kingdom (New York City, NY, 1848) 2 vols

Williams, Samuel Wells, Easy Lessons in Chinese (Macao, 1842)

Bridgman, Eliza, The Life and Labors of Elijah Coleman Bridgman (New York City, NY, 1864)


Barnett, Suzanne Wilson, ‘Protestant Expansion and Chinese Views of the West’, Modern Asian Studies, 6 (1972)

Barnett, Suzanne Wilson, Christianity in China: Early Protestant Missionary Writings (Harvard, MA, 1985)

Barnett, Suzanne, ‘Silent Evangelism: Presbyterians and the Mission Press in China, 1807—1860’, Journal of Presbyterian History, 49 (1971)

Bays, Daniel, Christianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Stanford, CA, 1999)

Brokaw, Cynthia J., and Kai-Wing Chow (eds), Printing and Book Culture in Late Imperial China (Los Angeles, CA, 2005)

Chen, Song-Chuan, Merchants of War and Peace: British Knowledge of China in the Making of the Opium War (Hong Kong, 2017)

Elman, Benjamin, On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550-1900 (Harvard, MA, 2009)

Hillemann, Ulrike, Asian Empire and British Knowledge: China and the Networks of British Imperial Expansion (Basingstoke, 2009)

Kitson, Peter J, Forging Romantic China: Sino-British Cultural Exchange 1760–1840 (Cambridge, 2013)

Lackner, Michael and Natascha Vittinghoff (eds), Mapping Meanings: The Field of New Learning in Late Qing China (Leiden, 2004)

Lazich, Michael, ‘American Missionaries and the Opium Trade in Nineteenth-Century China’, Journal of World History, 17 (2006)

Lazich, Michael, ‘Placing China in Its “Proper Rank among the Nations”: The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China and the First Systematic Account of the United States in Chinese’, Journal of World History, 22 (2011)

Malcolm, Elizabeth, ‘The Chinese Repository and Western Literature on China 1800 to 1850’, Modern Asian Studies, 7 (1973)

Reed, Christopher, Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876-1937 (Honolulu, 2005)

Spence, Johnathan, The Search for Modern China (New York City, NY, 1999)