“The Anatomy of Lenses” (Jingshi, 鏡史 1681): What it isn’t

Thu March 10th 2022, 12:00am
Event Sponsor
Center for East Asian Studies

Sun Yunqiu has been strongly associated with optical technologies since his own lifetime and particularly with the authorship of a short text, the Jingshi. “An Anatomy of Lenses” (1681) was rediscovered in 2007 and has spawned a host of explanations, all of them presuming that Sun Yunqiu was indeed a seventeenth-century fabricator of lenses. 

On one hand, this text contains rich veins for a hermeneutic approach: it is filled with images and poetry; it cites other texts extensively; its form is artful.  On the other hand, the text’s very topic—that of seventeenth-century lenses—demands an empirical approach as well.  These devices (corrective lenses and telescopes foremost among them) demand context from a worldwide perspective.  But the enticing thing about lenses is that they also demand the narrowest perspective as well, of a single craftsman grinding at a piece of crystal or glass. This presentation. part of a project that also focuses on what Jingshi is, is about what Jingshi is not.

This is a hybrid event, with in-person attendance restricted to Stanford affiliates (ID holders) ONLY ( Knight Building Rm. 102), pandemic conditions permitting. Members of the public can join us for this talk via Zoom. 

About the speaker:
Tina Lu is the Colonel John C Trumbull Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature in 1998.  She studies the seventeenth century.  She has taught at Yale since 2008.