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Wright, David Frank Aston (1995) The Transmission of Western Science Into China 1840-1900. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis examines the process, practice and issues surrounding the transmission of Western science into China 1840-1900. It opens with a discussion of the previous (Jesuit) transmission of Western science, and the nature of the Chinese paradigms which the Jesuits tried to displace. The nineteenth-century Western chemical paradigms which were to be transmitted are then considered, together with the rapidly changing nature of the subject and the consequent problems for the translators and their readers. The context of the transmission in China is discussed, especially the nature of the kaozheng [evidential research] scholarly community in the Jiangnan region of China which, I hope to show, played an important role in the reception of science. The special problems of translation from Western languages into Chinese are then dealt with, including the transliteration of terms and the creation of new characters. Parallels are drawn with the methods of the Buddhist translators and of the early nineteenth-century Chinese geographers. There follow studies of the translation of chemical terminology, of a selection of important science textbooks, and of two Western agents of transmission, John Fryer and Calvin Mateer. The lives of Chinese scientists Li Shanlan, Xu Shou, Xu Jianyin and Hua Hengfang are studied, followed by a chapter on the new institutions which they and the Westerners created. The remarkably rich popular science literature such as Gezhi Huibian is then analysed, and conclusions drawn about the nature of 3 popular interest in science in this period. The intellectual impact of Western science in the last decade of the century is considered, especially the effects on the thinking of Tan Sitong and Kang Youwei. Finally, general conclusions are elaborated and the significance of the transmission is assessed.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 16:57

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