The Chinese Writing System in Asia : An Interdisciplinary Perspective book cover
1st Edition

The Chinese Writing System in Asia
An Interdisciplinary Perspective


Yu Li

ISBN 9781138907324
Published November 19, 2019 by Routledge
252 Pages 67 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Chinese Writing System in Asia: An Interdisciplinary Perspective integrates a diverse range of disciplinary approaches in examining how the Chinese script represents and actively shapes personal and social identities in and beyond Asia. It is an ideal read for students and scholars interested in a broad and culturally rich introduction to research on the Chinese writing system. It can also serve as the main text of an undergraduate course on the subject.

Key features of this volume include:

  • Insights from studies of the Chinese writing system in linguistics, script reform and technology, gender, identity, literature, and the visual arts;
  • Examples embedded in inquiries of the cultural history and contemporary society of Asia;
  • Rigorous yet accessible discussions of complex concepts and phenomena that assume no prior knowledge of Asian languages or linguistics;
  • Supplementary multimedia materials and resources, including instructional support, available online. 

Table of Contents

Part I Linguistic Preliminaries

Chapter 1 Foundational concepts

Chapter 2 What is writing?

Chapter 3 What kinds of writing systems are there?

Chapter 4 Pīnyīn tutorial

Part II Writing Chinese

Chapter 5 The Chinese speech

Chapter 6 Written Chinese

Chapter 7 The Chinese writing system

Chapter 8 Demythifying the Chinese script

Part III Borrowing the Chinese writing system

Chapter 9 Chinese characters in Asia: An overview

Chapter 10 Writing Korean

Chapter 11 Writing Japanese

Chapter 12 Writing Vietnamese

Part IV Reforming the Chinese script

Chapter 13 Phonetic writing before pīnyīn

Chapter 14 Pīnyīn

Chapter 15 Simplification of Chinese characters

Chapter 16 Writing and technology in modern China

Part V Identity and gender in writing Chinese

Chapter 17 Handwriting and personhood

Chapter 18 Sexism in the Chinese writing system

Chapter 19 Nǚshū: Women’s script

Chapter 20 Script choice in writing Japanese

Part VI Chinese Characters in art and literature

Chapter 21 Chinese calligraphy

Chapter 22 A calligraphy workshop

Chapter 23 Modern calligraphy in China

Chapter 24 Chinese Characters in Avant-garde art

Chapter 25 Chinese Characters and Western Modernist poetry

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Yu Li is Assistant Professor of Chinese in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Loyola Marymount University, USA. Her research interests include Chinese linguistics, Chinese language pedagogy, East Asian calligraphy, and the Chinese linguistic landscape in the diaspora.


"This is a comprehensive introduction to the Chinese writing system from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. The author writes beautifully on the linguistic, socio-cultural, anthropological, literary and artistic aspects of Chinese characters." - Hongyuan Dong, Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Linguistics, The George Washington University in Washington DC, USA

"This book is a welcome new introduction to the Chinese writing system. I see the strengths of the book in three areas: its wide scope in the topics it covers, its thoroughness in the treatment of the topics, and its balance between scholarly discussions of the topics and its attention to popular interest in the topics." - Guohe Zheng, Professor of Japanese, Ball State University, USA