From News, Xinwen 新聞, to New Knowledge, Xinxue 新學: Newspapers as Sources for Early Modern Chinese Encyclopaedias

Natascha Gentz, Milena Dolezelova´-Velingerova (Editor), Rudolf G. Wagner (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

In this paper, I will explore the process by which news and newspaper articles became a recognised source for Chinese encyclopaedic works of new knowledge in the late nineteenth century. At first sight, the assumption itself seems self-contradictory: we commonly think of newspapers and encyclopaedias as serving different purposes, as being manufactured under different premises, and as produced by different social actors. While we assume that journalists produce quick ephemeral news to be sold on a daily basis, encyclopaedists produce standardised and sustainable summaries of up-to-date learning. In times of rapid change, these might even serve as introductory reference works for a new order of knowledge or a new educational system. Again, while publishers of newspapers or encyclopaedias pursue similar goals—marketing information for the purpose of educating the common people—their understanding of how to achieve this differs fundamentally. In order to provide the latest information, but also to overcome the numbing reiteration of certain standardized statements, newspapers produce and disseminate new knowledge daily. Encyclopaedists, however, seem to aim for the exact opposite, namely to standardise the most recent knowledge and turn it into a canon authorised by either secular or religious authorities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChinese Encyclopaedias of New Global Knowledge (1870–1930)
Subtitle of host publicationChanging Ways of Thought
PublisherSpringer-Verlag GmbH
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-642-35916-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-642-35915-6
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameTranscultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context
ISSN (Print)2191-6578


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