Cynthia J. Brokaw G'14, F'07, G'88, F'86

Cynthia J. Brokaw
Professor
History
Brown University
last updated: 1/24/2020

Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Collaborative Reading-Workshop Grants 2014
Professor
History
Brown University
How to Read a Chinese Book: Through the Lens of Paratexts
Williams College, Williamstown, MA

The international workshop of “How to Read a Chinese Book: Through the Lens of Paratexts” aims to bring together scholars of China from North America, Europe, and Asia to closely examine the paratextual elements of the “traditional” Chinese book in relation to its main text. For the purposes of the workshop, “the Chinese book” is a woodblock imprint of the late imperial period (late Ming and Qing, roughly the late sixteenth century to the early twentieth century). Gerard Genette, the most influential theorist of paratexts, defined them as “those liminal devices and conventions both within the book and outside of it that mediate the book to the reader.” Prefaces, postscripts, explanations of editorial principles (fanli), colophons, commentary, tables of contents (mulu), page layout, punctuation—these are common types of paratexts—all reveal how the author or editor and/or publisher of a text tried to shape the reading experience. As such they are important parts of the meaning of texts. Paratexts are also valuable sources for the study of reading practices. In this workshop, participants will not only explicate how paratexts work in the Chinese book culture but also discover the prescribed or embedded reading practices through a close examination of the paratextual elements of a wide range of genres of Chinese texts, including the classics and their commentaries, Christian writings in Chinese of Jesuit missionaries, civil service examination records, household encyclopedia, popular drama, children’s primers, as well as forged texts.

American Research in the Humanities in China 2007
Professor
History
The Ohio State University
Book Culture in the Qing Frontier: Publishing in Sichuan in the Seventeenth through Twentieth Centuries
Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences

This study examines the development of publishing and the creation of a Chinese book culture on the southwestern frontier (Sichuan province) of the Qing empire. It maps the transmission of printing technologies and texts from the established coastal publishing centers to the frontier; describes the growth of publishing in the province; analyzes the content of Sichuan book culture, both elite and popular; and traces the textual integration of Sichuan into the Chinese world during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Through a study of Tibetan publishing in Sichuan, it also explores the impact that a parallel, non-Han, textual culture had on this process of textual integration.

ACLS Grants-In-Aid 1988
Assistant Professor
University of Oregon
A new program for Confucian education: Dai Zhen (1724-1777) and learning

Mellon Program in Chinese Studies 1986
Assistant Professor
History
Vanderbilt University
Ledgers of merit and demerit in the Ming-Qing transition