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主講人：Prof. Joan Judge (York University)
Cheap print challenges our understanding of the act of reading, the circulation of knowledge and culture, and the nature and function of print itself. Produced to sell to the broadest possible audience, it nonetheless brings us closer to the common reader. The centerpiece of the broader project this paper comes out of, common readers are defined here as individuals with basic general literacy who did not read texts for a living.
In the project I use cheap print as a quasi-ethnographic entry point into the knowledge and reading culture of these common readers. I subject hastily produced, error-ridden, plagarized works to the same kind of care scholars subject fine texts: with attention to publishers, editions, paratexts, conventions, rhetorical appeals to readers, and appropriations across genres. From these micro-glimpses into the epistemological universe of the common reader I hope to ask a number of macro questions about the interconnections among cheap print, the dissemination of knowledge, and the politics of enlightenment in China’s long Republic.
Given the nature of the material and the elusiveness of the common reader, this will inevitably be a project in fragments. In this paper I think with two fragments: pieces of the history of one of the most prolific producers of cheap print in the long Republic, the Guangyi shuju 廣益書局 (“Kwang Yih Book Co. Ltd”), and a repeatedly reprinted compilation published by Guangyi, the Mishuhai 秘術海 (An ocean of secret tips) which was in print from 1912 to at least 1993.
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