Seminar: “Prognostication and popular print culture under the Qing.” Dr Nathan Woolley, University of Glasgow, 25 January 2018

25 January 2018 (Thursday), 4-5.30pm

Location: Urban Studies Boardroom, Room 139, 29 Bute Gardens, University of Glasgow.

Abstract: In the Chinese cultural sphere, annual almanacs have long provided people with the means of dealing with the uncertainties of daily life. These almanacs contain a complex array of methods for predicting the future and understanding the vagaries of fate, as well as guidelines for moral and filial behaviour. Presented together, these instruments represent a scheme of knowledge for thinking about the present and the future. Since such works are used and discarded year upon year, changes in content over decades can provide insight into fluctuating patterns of need and interest. This presentation will consider almanacs from the early 19th century. Due to their ephemeral nature, few copies from this period exist today. Printed in large numbers on cheap paper from indifferently carved woodblocks, the examples that do survive are often found in overseas collections. Yet together they display a shifting range of material that intersects with works in other genres, revealing a flexible approach to content that attended to amusement as well as apotropaic functions. This paper will explore the content and construction of such texts and how they were produced and served their audiences.  Nathan Woolley is a lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. His research focuses on religion, historiography and regional identity in pre-modern Chinese society.

First published: 5 April 2017

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