Abstract

Abstract:

This article examines how epistolary knowledge enabled schoolchildren to provide letter-writing services for adults who were not literate enough to write their own letters, thereby elevating those children's social status and raising their awareness of their own sociocultural power. The rise of child letter writers in Republican China is instrumental in understanding the ever-increasing need for written communication, the burgeoning of universal education, the expansion of commercial publications, and the construction of a modern society at that time. To appreciate the role of children in the aforementioned issues, the article emphasizes children's agency in two respects. First, it was embodied more so in children's consciousness of their ability to assist adults and to contribute to society than in their resistance to hierarchy and adults' directives. Second, it was reflected in children's appropriation of texts or images from letter-writing manuals for their own use, in order to accumulate cultural capital. In this sense, the rise of child letter writers in Republican China was distinct and significant because it aligned with China's ongoing pursuit of salvation and strength as a modern nation-state.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1941-3599
Print ISSN
1939-6724
Pages
pp. 38-62
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-14
Open Access
No
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