Joseph Dennis’s research focuses on the history of Chinese print culture, law, and society. He is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, where he has served as Director of Graduate Studies and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies. He is active in the Society for Ming Studies, where he has served as President and Secretary.
Dennis has spent many years studying Chinese local gazetteers, one of the most important sources for pre-modern Chinese studies. In his book, Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Gazetteers in Imperial China, 1100–1700 (Harvard University Press, 2015), Dennis examines how gazetteers were produced and read, and illustrates the significance of these texts in local societies and in discourses that were national in scope. In analyzing how gazetteers were initiated and produced, he examines the geography of imperial Chinese publishing, tracks the movements of manuscripts to printers and print labor to production sites, and reconstructs printer business zones.
Dennis is currently working on the Books in China Database, a web tool that allows scholars to explore the history of books in China from the Song dynasty to the Republican Period. The underlying data consists of information extracted from local gazetteers about more than 30,000 books. The data was gathered using MPIWG’s LoGaRT (Local Gazetteers Research Tools) software. Each book in the data set has been assigned a date range, latitude, and longitude, which makes possible chronological and spatial visualizations.
Dennis, Joseph (2021). “Data Collection Practices for Compiling Confucian School Library Book Lists in Ming and Qing Local Gazetteers.” Monumenta Serica: Journal of Oriental Studies 69 (2): 487–513. https://doi.org/10.1080/02549948.2021.1989783.Read More
Dennis, Joseph (2020). “The Role of Donations in Building Local School Book Collections in the Ming Dynasty.” Ming Qing yanjiu 24 (1): 46–66. https://doi.org/10.1163/24684791-12340042.Read More
Dennis, Joseph (2017). “Chinese School Libraries Book Collections Database Project.” In Chinese Local Chronicles Culture Going Global International Symposium on Local Chronicles Culture / 走向世界的中国方志文化国际学术研讨会论文汇编, 25–57. Beijing: The Office of Chinese…Read More
Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities
Institute for Research in the Humanities, Madison, Wisconsin
Nankai University, Tianjin, China
Local Gazetteers Leadership Small Group, Beijing, China
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany
Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, University of Hamburg, Germany