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Material Texts: Peter Kornicki (Cambridge), "The Secret worlds of Manuscripts in Japan and Korea"
Monday, April 10, 2017 - 5:15pm to 6:30pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center on the 6th Floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Please join us Monday, April 10th, for this semester’s next meeting of the Workshop in the History of Material Texts. We will convene at our usual time and place:5:15pmin the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center on the 6th Floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. 

We will be welcoming Peter Kornicki (Cambridge), for a talk entitled: "The Secret World of Manuscripts in Japan" Peter writes: 

What was a ‘manuscript’ in Edo-period Japan (1600-1868)? Come to that, what constituted a ‘book’? As David McKitterick, Harold Love, Henry Woudhuysen and others have shown, manuscript production continued in England after the age of incunabula, and a similar phenomenon can be identified elsewhere, including China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, particularly in the case of vernacular writings. Up to the 16th century in Japan and the 18th century in Korea and Vietnam almost all vernacular writings circulated exclusively in manuscript, while print was reserved for texts in literary Chinese, either the Chinese classics or local writings in literary Chinese. But in Edo-period Japan there was a tidal wave of vernacular writings in print, so what was the domain and role of manuscripts? One of the roles was to keep knowledge secret: why did the Japanese man who was the first in the world to use anaesthesia in a medical operation in 1804 want to keep that knowledge secret? 

Peter Kornickiis the son of former Polish fighter pilot, who turned 100 in December! He was educated at Oxford; taught at the universities of Tasmania, Kyoto and Cambridge; retired early from Professorship of Japanese at Cambridge owing to burn-out during 3rd period as head of department (=dean?). Author of Early Japanese Books in Cambridge University Library (1991), The book in Japan: a cultural history from the beginnings to the nineteenth century (1998), and other works; co-editor of The female as subject: Women and the book in Japan (2010), The history of the book in East Asia (2013), and Tibetan printing: comparisons, continuities and change (2016). Have just completed a study of vernacularization in East Asia entitled All under heaven: scripts, languages and Chinese texts in East Asia, to be published by Oxford University Press later this year. Real reason for being at UPenn: as accompanying spouse of Francesca Orsini, who is giving a series of lectures here on South Asia and the idea of world literature.