1st Edition

The First Print Era The Rise of Print Culture in China’s Northern Song Dynasty

By Daniel Fried Copyright 2024
    154 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The First Print Era examines the rise of print culture during China’s Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127). Bringing together often-overlooked primary sources from the period and scholarship on many individual topics in Song print history, the book offers the first extended narrative in English of how print became entrenched as a sustained mode of textual dissemination in China. While discussing technical innovations and the growth of the print industry, the book focuses on how the rise of print affected several indispensable elements of Song intellectual culture: the expansion of the exam system, the canonization of Tang and earlier models, the rise of antiquarianism and connoisseurship, the birth of Neo-Confucianism as a new intellectual force, the growth of a new literati culture and new forms of literary production and critique, and the development of calligraphy as an art form that could be taught, critiqued, and divided into schools. Overall, the book describes a process by which print publication moved from a highly centralized state enterprise, back to expanded elite use, and eventually towards the popular print markets that would create new forms of expression during the Southern Song and Yuan dynasties.

    This book will be an essential read for students and scholars of Asian studies, Medieval studies, and those with a focus on print history and Chinese studies.

    1. Introduction: The Status of Song Print   2. Print and Canons at the Founding of the Song Dynasty   3. Print, Classics, and the Road to Philosophy   4. The Role of Print in 11th-Century Literati Culture   5. Print Culture as Visual Culture


    Daniel Fried is Associate Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature, and Chair of the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. He specializes in the intellectual history of ancient and medieval China, particularly focusing on theories of language and communication. He is a past president of the Association of Chinese and Comparative Literature, and the founding Chair of the Modern Language Association’s Forum on Pre-14th Century Chinese Literature. Currently, he serves on the executive committee of the MLA’s Association of Language Departments, and as Vice President of the World Association for Chinese Studies.