China Research Workshop 中国研究讲座 RSVP
Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 | 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. | GPS Dean's Conference Room (2nd Floor)

"Mediating the Message: Book Culture and Propaganda in Mao’s China, 1974-1976"

Presenter: Matthew Wills, Ph.D. Candidate in Modern Chinese History, UC San Diego

Scholarship on the twentieth century book focuses on those produced in a commercial context; from an overall prospect, however, in the twentieth century far more books were published for political purposes than for profit. The Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda state used the medium of the book to enshrine, reproduce, and disseminate political narratives. My talk explores how publishers manipulated the format of books to further their propaganda agenda. I show how design choices over size, margins and bindings mediated the relationship between books and their readers. In addition, I argue that, when dealing with these materials, historians must recognize how reproductive technologies sometimes tied the hands of propaganda producers. By knowing how a book is made, we can see many instances where publishers subordinated their political goals to physical reality. The advent of industrialized publishing presented new opportunities and new challenges for propaganda states.


CRW provides a forum for the presentation of original research by China scholars from around the country in social science and humanities, sponsored by the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China. To view archive and upcoming workshops list, visit:

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