Assistant Professor of Asian Studies & Chinese Language Qingjun (Joan) Li is co-editor, along with Rachana Sachdev of Susquehanna University of Encountering China: Early Modern European Responses. This newly published volume of essays from Bucknell University Press addresses the responses of early modern travelers to China who, awed by the wealth and sophistication of the society they encountered, both attempted primarily to build bridges and express criticisms of China’s local traditions and practices.
Li’s essay in the collection is entitled, “Of Golden Lilies and Gentlewomen: Constructions of Chinese Women in Early Modern European Travel narratives.”
Contributors in the collection engage critically with travelogues, treating them not just as occasional sources of historical information but as primary, literary texts deeply revelatory of the world they describe. The contributors also reach back to the earliest European writings available on China in an effort to broaden and nuance the readers’ understanding of European contact with the Middle Kingdom in the early modern period. While the primary focus of these essays is the external gaze – European sources about China – contributors also tease out aspects of the Chinese world-view of the time, thus generating a conversation between Chinese literary and historical texts and European ones.