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MC4.3 Paratexts

Paratexts in Late Imperial Chinese Book Culture

Coordination: Joachim Kurtz


Paratexts such as book jackets, prefaces, epilogues, colophons as well as seals,
marginal notes, illustrative materials, etc. are indispensable parts of the public and
private histories of any book. According to G. Genette, who coined the term,
paratexts are what enables a text to become a book in the first place: thresholds of
interpretation that authors, editors and others can use to frame how readers
approach the work’s main text. The book culture of late imperial China was an
unusually fertile ground for the production of framing paratexts. Present in virtually
every book published in the Ming and Qing dynasties, paratexts served as strategic
platforms for commercial, epistemological and ideological negotiations between
authors, publishers, and readers. This subproject aims to reconstruct the complex
paratextual landscape in late imperial Chinese book culture and attempts to redefine
the paratextual genre as a global phenomenon.



Joachim Kurtz

Group members

Rui Magone
Duncan Paterson