The Bookwheel: A Cross-Cultural Story

Visiting Scholar Talks

May 12, 2022 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Event Registration


He Zhaohui | Professor, Institute for Advanced Confucian Studies, Shandong University, HYI Visiting Scholar, 2021-2022


Ann Blair | Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor, Harvard University

Held via Zoom – registration required:

In Yuanxi Qiqi Tushuo Luzui (The Illustrated Most Exotic Instruments from the Far West), published in China in 1628, there was an illustration of a big wheel, in front of which a literatus was seated in a chair, reads the books placed on the tilted shelves fixed in the wheel. It was a scene never seen before in the history of China. The instrument called bookwheel (book wheel, reading wheel), originated in Europe. In this talk I will try to trace the history of the reception of the bookwheel in early modern China, analyze the interpretations of its alleged Chinese counterparts by both early modern and modern scholars, and discuss the differences between the book cultures that set the stage for the understandings and misunderstandings of the nature and the operation of the bookwheel.

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies