Afterword: Rethinking Western Printing With Chinese Comparisons
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CitationBlair, Ann. 2011. "Afterword: Rethinking Western printing with Chinese comparisons." In Knowledge and Text Production in an Age of Print: China, 900-1400, edited by Lucille Chia and Hilde de Weerd. 349-360. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill.
AbstractHistorians of the book of all specialisms, but especially those pondering the impact of printing in Europe or elsewhere, stand much to gain from a volume like this one which tackles a big question --the impact of printing in China between 10th and 14th centuries-- by focusing in careful detail on specific causal factors, genres of writing and cultural milieux. To focus on broad generalizations about the impact of printing, in China or in Europe, let alone across the two, is to risk ignoring the multiple and sometimes contradictory trends that printing fostered. In both Europe and China printing increased the speed with which multiple copies of a text, map or image could be produced, though the technology and economics involved in the use of woodblock versus movable metal type were different in important ways. Despite those and many contextual differences, there are also similarities between many of the themes presented in this volume and in the recent historiography on early modern European printing-- from the enthusiasm for printing as a response to loss and a means of education to the fears of subversion or loss of textual quality that printing also prompted.
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