The conceptual models of understanding China in a dichotomized logic of “Western impact/ China response” and “Tradition and Modernity” have been severely challenged in recent years. But we must admit that these paradigmatic models have called forth enough attention in the study of China at the period when she was positioned in a historical crossroad. China, like all other nations and societies, is always in a constant change by receiving and reacting to new challenges from the world. After the inception of the Late Qing Studies three decades ago, the study of the period from late Qing to early Republican has developed up to multifaceted and multi-dialogic levels, but there are still many themes in the areas of thought, literature, religion and politics which are yet to be fully explored. The questions of how to theorize and to apply the conceptual models in modern China with the recently emerging historicity are therefore a pending task.
Early cross-cultural contacts are inevitably based upon the processes of imagining and conceptualizing through misunderstandings and stereotypical constructions. Late Qing society was not different. When the Chinese elites and the general public had been exposed to the dialogic platform presented by missionaries, traders, diplomats, the making of new knowledge of China reached a new height.
The workshop seeks to further explore and understand the crisscrossing trajectory of the east-west, old-new and tradition-modern interactions through a contextualized study of archival materials, close reading of textual evidence and critical analysis of the historicity and fictionality embedded in resources related to modern China from late Qing to early republican period.