Publishing in the late 1870s and 1880s often under the byline “The Circumnavigator,” Li Gui (李圭) made himself known as a cosmopolitan, a reformer, a commentator, and a victim. He attended the Philadelphia World’s Fair in 1876, making him one of the first Chinese to travel around the world first class via the then newly opened Suez Canal and the Transcontinental Railroad. He published dispatches from his journey in Shen bao, making use of new communications technologies to share insight into the wonders and challenges that he encountered abroad. His travelogue, A New Record of a Trip Around the World (環遊地球新錄), and his memoir of captivity among the Taiping army, A Record of Pondering Pain (思痛記), both were published in book form after his return to China. They also were advertised in contemporary media. By looking both at advertisements and articles, this talk will examine the life of a late Qing traveler in its global and local contexts, with particular attention to the changing market for print in the very late 19th century.
Tobie Meyer-Fong, Professor of History and Director of East Asian Studies, received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University (1989) and her doctoral degree from Stanford University (1998). She served as editor of the journal Late Imperial China from March 2007-December 2018. Professor Meyer-Fong is broadly interested in the history of China especially from 1600 to the present. She is the author of Building Culture in Early Qing Yangzhou and What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in 19th Century China. Her recent research deals with a survivor of the Taiping civil war who circumnavigated the globe in 1876 and on recollections of childhood in the Zhoushan archipelago during the 1940s from the vantage point of both subsequent emigration and the island’s rapid 21st century urbanization.