Early Encounters between East Asia and Europe : Telling Failures book cover
1st Edition

Early Encounters between East Asia and Europe
Telling Failures

ISBN 9780367882006
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
192 Pages

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Book Description

While inquiries into early encounters between East Asia and the West have traditionally focused on successful interactions, this collection inquires into the many forms of failure, experienced on all sides, in the period before 1850. Countering a tendency in scholarship to overlook unsuccessful encounters, it starts from the assumption that failures can prove highly illuminating and provide valuable insights into both the specific shapes and limitations of East Asian and Western imaginations of the Other, as well as of the nature of East-West interaction. Interdisciplinary in outlook, this collection brings together the perspectives of sinology, Japanese and Korean studies, historical studies, literary studies, art history, religious studies, and performance studies. The subjects discussed are manifold and range from missionary accounts, travel reports, letters and trade documents to fictional texts as well as material objects (such as tea, chinaware, or nautical instruments) exchanged between East and West. In order to avoid a Eurocentric perspective, the collection balances approaches from the fields of English literature, Spanish studies, Neo-Latin studies, and art history with those of sinology, Japanese studies, and Korean studies. It includes an introduction mapping out the field of failures in early modern encounters between East Asia and Europe, as well as a theoretically minded essay on the lessons of failure and the ethics of cross-cultural understanding.

Table of Contents



Notes on Contributors

  1. Introduction: Telling Failures—Early Encounters between East Asia and Europe

  2. Ralf Hertel and Michael Keevak

    Part 1: Trade

  3. A Failure far from Heroic: Early European Encounters with ‘Far Eastern’ Slavery

  4. Rotem Kowner

  5. Faking It: The Invention of East Asia in Early Modern England

Ralf Hertel

Part 2: Embassies

4 The Travel Report of the Castilian Embassy to the Court of Tamerlane at Samarkand (1403–1406): The Failed Response from Tamerlane to King Henry III of Castile and León

Inke Gunia

5 The ‘catastrophe of this new Chinese mission’: The Amherst Embassy to China of 1816

Peter J. Kitson

Part 3: Religion

6 Failed Missions in Early Korean Encounters with ‛Western Learning’

Marion Eggert

7 The Christian Manchu Missions during the Qing Period (1644–1911): Perceptions and Political Implications

Lars Laamann

Part 4: Knowledge

8 Persian Apples, Chinese Leaves, Arab Beans: Encounters with the East in Neo-Latin Didactic Poetry

Claudia Schindler

9 Failure, Empire, and the First Portuguese Embassy to China, 1517–1522

Michael Keevak

10 Lessons of Failure: Towards an Ethics of Cross-Cultural Understanding

QS Tong




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Ralf Hertel is Professor of English Literature at the University of Trier, Germany. Michael Keevak is Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at National Taiwan University, Taiwan.