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The Multiple Ways of Printing and Circulation of “Precious Scrolls” in Early Twentieth-Century Shanghai

2023. 11. 03. (Fri)
Seminar and Colloquium
  • Date: 2023. 11. 03. (Fri)
  • Time:  5:00 - 6:30 PM
  • Venue:  ZOOM
  • Speaker: Rostislav Berezkin (Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University)
  • Language: English
  • Organizer: Department of Religion and Philosophy, HKBU
  • Target: HKBU Students, Staff and Public
    Dr. Love

    Rostislav Berezkin

    Rostislav Berezkin obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and candidate of sciences degree from Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia. Then he conducted postdoctoral research at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. At present he is a senior research fellow at the National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University. His main fields of research are religious storytelling and popular religion in late imperial China. His publications include two books in Russian. His English book Many Faces of Mulian: The Precious Scrolls of Late Imperial China was published by the University of Washington Press in 2017. His English articles have been published in T’oung Pao, Late Imperial China, Asia Major, Monumenta Serica, BEFEO, Journal of Chinese Religions, Hanxue Yanjiu, Religion and Arts, Minsu quyi, and CHINOPERL (Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature), Religions, CLEAR (Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews), Frontiers of History in China, Ming-Qing Studies. Rostislav also published a number of articles in Chinese and Russian, and a co-authored monograph in Vietnamese: NGUYỄN Tô Lan and Rostislav BEREZKIN, Phật Bà bể Nam: Truyện Quán Âm Diệu Thiện tại Việt Nam (Avalokiteśvara of the Vietnamese Sea: Miaoshan-Guanyin Legend in Vietnam; Hanoi: Vietnam University of Education Publishing House, 2021).



This talk discusses printing and dissemination of baojuan (precious scrolls) texts, a genre of popular storytelling literature with religious background, in Shanghai in the period between 1910 and 1940. At that time a wide range of baojuan were printed in the forms of woodblock, lithographic and later even modern typeset editions. The talk explains the diversity of forms of baojuan transmission and attempts to revise conclusions of the preceding studies about the complete transformation of baojuan texts into reading materials in the urban environment after they started to be mass-printed by the Shanghai publishers. I also discuss the role of baojuan texts and their performances in the popular culture of Shanghai and its vicinity at the beginning of the twentieth century. This research is primarily based on information found in the original editions of baojuan from this period, also referring to historical and ethnographic sources.