Making Texts in Villages: Textual Production in Rural China During the Ming-Qing Period

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Making Texts in Villages: Textual Production in Rural China During the Ming-Qing Period

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Title: Making Texts in Villages: Textual Production in Rural China During the Ming-Qing Period
Author: Li, Ren-Yuan
Citation: Li, Ren-Yuan. 2014. Making Texts in Villages: Textual Production in Rural China During the Ming-Qing Period. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation uses the textual materials found in several villages in Pingnan, northeastern Fujian, from 2008 to 2011, to examine the use of texts in rural China during the imperial period. The discussion focuses on the texts produced by local people and used locally. The central theme of the dissertation is to contextualize the rise of textual culture and the spread literate mentality in a marginal society, and explore the relationship between text and society. The dissertation consists of two major parts. Part I covers the period when Pingnan was the northern part of Gutian County, and Part II covers the period around and after the establishment of Pingnan County in 1734.
Part I consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 traces the early textual practices in northern Gutian during the Song-Yuan period, and suggests a local perspective of textual culture. Chapter 2 discusses the establishment of official documentation system in the early Ming and its influence on local communities and the production of local texts. Chapter 3 uses a case of a rising family in the late Ming to illustrate the use of textual construction to promote one's social and cultural status.
Part II consists of four chapters and each chapter investigates the use of texts in one realm of village life. Chapter 4 starts with the penetration of genealogy compilation and the transformation of social structure. Chapter 5 discusses the political background for the proliferation of stone stelae and other "texts for public display." Chapter 6 examines various kinds of textual materials used in economic activities, from managing lineage properties to land-exchanges and long-distant trades. Chapter 7 explores the creation within the transmission of ritual texts and their responses to the changing requirement of ritual performance.
In the conclusion, this dissertation discusses the significance of textual culture in the general transformations and social integrations in northeastern Fujian, and also reconsiders the question of "literacy" in the context of local society.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13065015
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