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CEAPS/EALC Speaker | Peter Kornicki “The Edo period as a manuscript culture"

Event Type
Center For East Asian and Pacific Studies; Department of East Asian Languages and Culture
Levis Faculty Center, Room 210 (919 W Illinois St., Urbana) & ZOOM
Apr 25, 2024   4:00 - 5:30 pm  
Peter Kornicki (Emeritus Professor of Japanese, University of Cambridge; 2024 Paleography and the Book Visiting Scholar, University of Chicago)
Yuchia Chang
Originating Calendar
CEAPS Events Calendar

This event will be offered both in person and virtually.  Please register at the link above.

About the Talk

Printing began in Japan in the 8th century with the production of the Hyakumantō darani, though they were produced for ritual purposes not for reading. Texts were printed for reading from the 11th century onwards and from the beginning of the 17th century commercial publication took off rapidly and so successfully that by the 1660s catalogues of books in print were printed. So surely it is perverse to describe the Edo period as a manuscript culture? Well, no. Because the focus on Japan as a print society like that of contemporary Europe has blinded us to the dominance of manuscript culture and to the categories of knowledge that could only be accessed via manuscripts. Manuscript culture in Japan and the activities that sustained it have been little studied in Japan, let alone Korea or China, but in this talk I will show what we miss by ignoring manuscripts.

About the Speaker

Peter Kornicki is best known for his work on the cultural history of Japan, particularly the history of books and maps. He has studied how ideas and literature were circulated in Japan, how these books were read, and what factors determined their reception by different audiences. Kornicki is emeritus professor of Japanese at Robinson College in the University of Cambridge and currently president of the British Association for Japanese Studies.

While he is no longer teaching, his research and publications have continued unabated, and he is the editor in chief of the journal East Asian Publishing and Society. Since 2005, he has broadened his scholarship to include Korea, Vietnam, and China. In 2018, Kornicki completed a major study on the influence of Chinese textual culture on East Asia entitled Languages, Scripts and Chinese Texts in East Asia (2018). His other major works include The Book in Japan: A Cultural History from the Beginnings to the Nineteenth Century (1998), Early Japanese Books in Cambridge University Library: A Catalogue of the Aston, Satow, and von Siebold Collections (1991) with co-editor N. Hayashi, and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Japan (1993) with co-editor Richard Bowring.

Among many honors, Kornicki received the Japan Foundation Special Prize in 1992, the Yamagata Bantō Prize in 2013, and the Order of the Rising Sun with Golden Rays and Neck Ribbon from the Emperor of Japan in 2017. He is a fellow of the British Academy and received the degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Oxford in 2011.

His recent work includes Eavesdropping on the Emperor: Interrogators and Codebreakers in Britain’s War with Japan (2021) and, with Japanese co-editors, The Bramsen Collection at the National Museum of Denmark (2023), a study of Japanese coins and books collected in Japan in the 1870s. He has recently complete a book in Japanese on manuscript culture in the Edo period.

* Image Courtesy of Bavarian State Library.

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