Jan 26: Alice Yeh, “Silky Signs: Measuring Conversion and Cultivating Christendom”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 12:00-1:15pm (Swift 208)
Alice Yeh

Silky Signs: Measuring Conversion and Cultivating Christendom in ultimo Oriente

Abstract: This presentation aims to show how the Jesuit Mission to China was rhetorically represented as a project of measurement. I examine a booklet, Brevis relatio de numero, et qualitate Christianorum apud Sinas (‘Brief Account on the Number and Quality of Christians among the Chinese’), written by the Jesuit Father Martino Martini in 1654. Martini’s assessment of China’s Christian progress was a part of the effort to accommodate China to a Euro-Christian time-space. Measuring Christianization by “number and quality” was no straightforward task, but a worldmaking exercise of semiotic complexity, the strategies of which I will explore.

Lunch will be provided.