The History of the Book in Vietnam

May 24–25
Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Hanoi, Vienam

A workshop organized by the Institute of Social Sciences Information in collaboration with the Institute of Sino-Nom Studies sponsored by the Harvard-Yenching Institute and the Asia Center of Harvard University.

The conference will gather together scholars from Vietnam, North America, China, Hongkong, Japan, and Singapore. It will cover various aspects of the history of the book from the types of materials used in printing (ink, paper, woodblock carvings) to publication, collection, trade, and readership. Books and pamphlets were produced in both classical Chinese and in nom, for different purposes and readerships, ranging from educational documents, official documents, to Confucian texts, Buddhist texts, and opera scripts. Dictionaries and syllabaries also made an appearance in the late seventeenth/ early eighteenth century, suggesting the need for comparison with foreign models for organizing information.  While many texts were imported directly from China, it is known that many manuscripts were sent out for printing to Guangdong where the supply of inexpensive semi-skilled labor rendered the cost of printing cheaper than in Vietnam. As a consequence, there existed a lively trade in books between Vietnam and China. We also pay attention to the circulation and influence of New Book (Tân thư or Shinshu) from the West to East Asian countries, particularly from Japan and China to Vietnam in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries.

This conference will provide an opportunity for scholars already engaged in the study of the history of the book in Vietnam to exchange the results of their research and discuss new topics and approaches.

Conference schedule