Brushes with some "dirty truths": handwritten manuscripts and religion in China

Submitted by James Miller on Sat, 02/09/2013 - 13:16
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TitleBrushes with some "dirty truths": handwritten manuscripts and religion in China
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRobson, J.
JournalHistory of Religions
ISBN Number0018-2710
KeywordsAnalysis, ceremonies, ESSAYS, Manuscripts, Planning, PRINTING, Religious education, Religious Studies, Rites &amp, Taoism, Theory

Robson considers a robust but oftentimes overlooked aspect of Catherine Bell's research agenda: printing and religion in China. Robson notes that Bell's work on the critical analysis of the impact of printing on Chinese religions was ahead of its time. Her work prefigured a movement within the field that recognizes the limitations of working solely with printed texts. As Robson notes, some scholars have begun to pay more atten- tion to handwritten manuscripts circulating after the invention and spread of printing. This new emphasis does not deny the profound impact that printing had in China, but the shift in focus to handwritten texts allowed access to less studied domains of Chinese religious practice. Those materials also force scholars to grapple with some important issues regarding category formation iii the study of Chinese religions, a topic that was of fundamental importance to Bell.