China Bibliography: A Research Guide to Reference Works about China Past and Present, and: Classical Historiography for Chinese History, and: China: New Edition (review)
- China Review International
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1998
- pp. 52-58
- Additional Information
52 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Harriet T. Zurndorfer. China Bibliography: A Research Guide to Reference Works about China Past and Present. Handbuch der Orientalistik IV, 10. Leiden, New York, and Köln: E. J. Brill, 1995. xiv, 380 pp. Hardcover $124.50, isbn 90-04-10278-7. Benjamin Elman, compiler. Classical Historiographyfor Chinese History [online]. With the help ofPing-yi Chu, Xiaoping Cong, Miaw-fen Lu, Sam Gilbert, and Adam Schorr. UCLA Social Science Computing Center,©1996 by Benjamin A. Elman [cited 23 October 1997]. Available from World Wide Web: . Charles W. Hayford. China: New Edition. World Bibliographical Series 35. Oxford, Santa Barbara, and Denver: Clio Press, 1997. xxvi, 603 pp. Hardcover £95.00. isbn 1-85109-235-8. The growing output of new reference publications on China and the increasing availability and accessibility of information (especially through the Internet) add urgency to the call for good lectures and research guides to introduce these materials . One danger, indeed, of this sudden increase in information is that it becomes impossible to digest, especially for young scholars in the China field, so that overinformation actually results in disorientation and non-information. What should be the criteria for such introductory material? It seems to me that an introduction to research should be based on at least the four following elements: (1) on the basis of the available information, the student should be able to find (2) in the easiest and therefore quickest possible way (3) the most precise information (4) about a given question. These four elements determine which reference work one will use. Lectures on the use of reference works, and, ideally, research guides as well, should then mainly introduce students to the second and third criteria, since the first and fourth pertain to a given problem or exercise. Ideally, therefore, a research guide should, on the one hand, combine completeness and selection and, on the other, orient the reader with regard to the practical use of a given reference work (language, index, character system) (i.e., criterion 2) and to the information included in the work (i.e., criterion 3). It is from this perspective that I will try to review here two bibliographical books and , . . one bibliographical Web site. Though there are several of the latter for Chinese ofHawai'i Pressstudies, the one selected for review here relates most closely to the classroom experience. Features 53 Each ofthe works under review is inherendy quite different from the others. Zurndorfer's China Bibliographyis meant as a systematic guide to the most common sources, topics, and problems in China study. It derives from a series oflectures prepared for a University ofLeiden course on Chinese Bibliography and maintains to a large extent the structure of this course. The chapters concentrate on one subject (e.g., biography, geography, collectanea). They are introduced by a historical essay, which includes a good number ofmethodological suggestions, and are followed by an annotated list ofreference works. The guide assumes that the user is already familiar with the outlines ofboth premodern and modern Chinese history and has some knowledge of Chinese literature as well. The Classical HistoriographyWeb site pulls together materials that Benjamin Elman has been compiling at UCLA for the past ten years with the help of graduate students (Ping-yi Chu, Miaw-fen Lu, Sam Gilbert, and Adam Schorr). The individual sections concentrate on one topic and list the tides ofbooks and articles without comment. The bibliography is intended for anyone interested in doing research in Chinese history broadly defined. Yet the whole is more specifically conceived as teaching material and is accompanied by research exercises for training students in Chinese historiography. The exercises assume a working knowledge of Classical Chinese and are based on a ten-week quarter system. Hayford's China is not a research guide but a multidisciplinary bibliography, covering all aspects of China. It contains more than 1,500 annotated entries, which refer to more than 2,200 tides. Like the other volumes in the World Bibliographical Series, it is designed for an audience ranging from the informed general reader to the scholar who wishes to obtain background information in a field of expertise other than his or...