An IASH Work-in-Progress seminar, delivered by Professor Anthony E. Clark (Combe Trust Fellowship 2021; Whitworth University):
The Theater of Canonization: The Making of Jesuit Saints in Late Imperial China
The word “China” is a sixteenth-century Western neologism derived from the name of China’s first imperial dynasty – the Qin 秦, which was commonly Latinized in Jesuit epistolary exchange as “China.” Chinese refer to their own nation as 中國, transliterated as Zhongguo, or the “Middle Kingdom,” and thus the division between how China and the West view the “Middle Kingdom” begins with the fundamental nomenclature self-identification. The Jesuit enterprise during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties (re)presented China to the West in contours that engendered a romanticized “China” exalted by Enlightenment literati who helped inaugurate the Chinoiserie movement and new modes of intellectual discourse. By the mid-nineteenth century the West’s intellectual and aesthetic admiration for China transmuted into an arrogant disdain, and after the Opium War (1839-1840) Jesuits set themselves once again to (re)presenting China in a fashion that would “redeem” it from the pejorative assessment then dominant in the West. This work-in-progress seminar considers how the Society of Jesus served to manufacture the West’s imagination of “China” from popularizing the Western neologism for Zhonguo in the sixteenth century to the production of Jesuit drama in China that wished to refashion, indeed canonize, Chinese culture both within and beyond the Great Wall.
A small number of seats are available for Fellows in the seminar room, as this talk will be delivered in person. For all other Fellows and guetss, please click the link below to join the webinar: