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The Strange, the Marvelous, and the Exotic in Early Modern China and Europe, Sec. 2

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Organizer: Andrew Hui

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The Strange, the Marvelous, and the Exotic in Early Modern China and Europe This seminar seeks to bring together scholars of late imperial China and scholars of early modern Europe (1400-1700, broadly defined) to engage in a comparative study on the mutual parallels, contacts, influences, and transformations between these two cultures. Urban centers in Europe and China alike witnessed the widespread reinterpretation of classical texts, proliferation of print culture, development of new technologies, and expansion of women’s literacy and writing. Perhaps most importantly of all, Europe and China encountered foreign cultures that challenged long standing assumptions about their own respective societies. Thus, we seek papers that engage with the categories of the exotic, the 奇, the fascinating, the foreign, the strange, the wondrous, the bizarre, the “barbaric,” and the marvelous, within and beyond these two distinct cultural spheres. Through what ethnographic, religious and social lenses were foreign cultures perceived, and why? How were collections of antiquities and exotica, such as Wunderkammern, studioli, and 小品 (as words and things) assembled and displayed? How did encyclopedias, atlases, and dictionaries represent the capacious varieties of the wide world? Papers can focus on exclusively European or Chinese topics, though cross-cultural comparisons are welcomed.

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