Li Gui: A Qing Man in the World

Tobie Meyer-Fong, professor of history, Johns Hopkins University

In 1876, a young clerk from the Qing Maritime Customs Service boarded a Japanese-owned steamship in the Treaty Port of Shanghai.  His destination:  The centennial world’s fair in the American city of Philadelphia, a journey that literally carried him around the world.  This man, Li Gui, is perhaps most famous as the author of a best-selling account of his travels, A New Account of a Trip Around the World. How does Li Gui’s travelogue read if we remove it from the confines of a teleological account of China’s modern history and resituate both the man and his book in the context of “late imperial global history” and in relation to the “printed world” of late Qing Shanghai?  This talk will consider Li Gui as a Qing man in a late imperial world defined not only by guns and great power competition but also by (shared) wonder at the new possibilities of circumnavigation and for self-representation in new media.  It seeks thereby to break apart rigid binaries and to reconsider the place of a late Qing man and his self-representation as a man of the world.

Registration is required to attend the lecture. Once registered you will receive the Zoom link.

Supported by a gift from Leung Tung Peter & Lin Young.

Sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of History.