China Circulating in Early Modern German Print Media

B. Venkat Mani, Pamela M. Potter and Daniel Purdy


This paper argues broadly that China was an important concern at early modern German courts because East Asia constituted a region into which German electors hoped to expand their own political power. Their ventures were only sometimes successful, leading thus to a cycle of political engagement with and detachment from East Asia. Within the publishing world, information about China was constrained by the limited access Europeans had to the Middle Kingdom. Even though Jesuit missionaries provided the most scholarly accounts of the Chinese elite, their reports and translations did not satisfy the growing demand for writing about China; thus early modern publishers repeated many of the same narratives and descriptions of China in ever-new reformulations of familiar texts. This article examines the on-again, off-again media cycle of early modern representations of China. (DP)