The Stone and the Wireless

Mediating China, 1861–1906

The Stone and the Wireless

Sign, Storage, Transmission

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Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 10 illustrations Published: June 2021

Author: Shaoling Ma

Asian Studies > East Asia, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Media Studies > Media Technologies

In the final decades of the Manchu Qing dynasty in China, technologies such as the phonograph, telephone, telegraph, and photography were both new and foreign. In The Stone and the Wireless Shaoling Ma analyzes diplomatic diaries, early science fiction, feminist poetry, photography, telegrams, and other archival texts, and shows how writers, intellectuals, reformers, and revolutionaries theorized what media does despite lacking a vocabulary to do so. Media defines the dynamics between technologies and their social or cultural forms, between devices or communicative processes, and their representations in texts and images. More than simply reexamining late Qing China's political upheavals and modernizing energies through the lens of media, Ma shows that a new culture of mediation was helping to shape the very distinctions between politics, gender dynamics, economics, and science and technology. Ma contends that mediation lies not only at the heart of Chinese media history, but of media history writ large.


“The beauty of Shaoling Ma's inspiring and provocative argument is that it allows for a reconsideration of late Qing culture through a new prism and for the expansion of mediality beyond the familiar confines of Western culture. Offering fresh readings and giving new life to key texts in modern Chinese history and literature, Ma makes an intervention that will force the field of Chinese studies to reassess its methodology and fundamental assumptions.” — Yomi Braester, author of Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract

“From late Qing texts and media studies to Marxist criticism and affect theory, The Stone and the Wireless combines different archives, discourses, and theoretical registers in new and exciting ways. This innovative, rich, and intellectually engaging work will appeal to those in Chinese studies and media studies more broadly.” — Andrea Bachner, author of The Mark of Theory: Inscriptive Figures, Poststructuralist Prehistories


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Shaoling Ma is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. The Forms of Media  1
Part I. Jl | Recordings
1. Guo Songtao's Phonograph: The Politics and Aesthetics of Real and Imagined Media  37
2. Stone, Copy, Medium: "Tidbits of Writing" and "Official Documents" in New Story of the Stone (1905–1906)  74
Part II. Chuan/Zhuan | Transmissions
3. Lyrical Media: Technology, Sentimentality, and Bad Models of the Feeling Woman  111
Part III. Tong | Interconnectivity
4. 1900: Infrastructural Emergencies of Telegraphic Proportions  149
5. A Medium to End All Media: "New Tales of Mr. Braggadocio" and the Social Brain of Industry and Intellect  181
Conclusion: Stone, Woman, Wireless  207
Notes  219
Bibliography  261
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1147-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1046-3