© 2019

Children’s Literature and Transnational Knowledge in Modern China

Education, Religion, and Childhood


About this book


This book examines the development of Chinese children’s literature from the late Qing to early Republican era. It highlights the transnational flows of knowledge, texts, and cultures during a time when children’s literature in China and the West was developing rapidly. Drawing from a rich archive of periodicals, novels, tracts, primers, and textbooks, the author analyzes how Chinese children’s literature published by Protestant missionaries and Chinese educators in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries presented varying notions of childhood. In this period of dramatic transition from the dynastic Qing empire to the new Republican China, young readers were offered different models of childhood, some of which challenged dominant Confucian ideas of what it meant to be a child. This volume sheds new light on a little-explored aspect of Chinese literary history. Through its contributions to the fields of children’s literature, book history, missionary history, and translation studies, it enhances our understanding of the negotiations between Chinese and Western cultures that shaped the publication and reception of Chinese texts for children. 


Chinese Concepts of Childhood and Education Development of Children’s Literature in China First Chinese-language Children’s Periodical Xiaohai Yuebao Transnational Networks and Print Culture in China Children's Literature in the Qing Empire and Republican China

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia

About the authors

Shih-Wen Sue Chen is Senior Lecturer in Writing and Literature at Deakin University, Australia. She received her PhD in Literature, Screen and Theatre studies from the Australian National University. She is the author of Representations of China in British Children’s Fiction, 1851-1911 (2013) and has many essays published in peer-reviewed journals and edited collections.

Bibliographic information


“Sue Chen shows us through her extensive research the wide range of influences and issues that went into the making of a modern literature for children in China.”(Tim Barrett, Professor Emeritus of East Asian History, SOAS, University of London, UK)

“Chen’s illuminating study excavates the transnational influences which shaped children’s literature in modern China. The book’s deft analysis of texts produced between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries shows how missionaries, translators and Chinese writers promoted powerful ideas about China and its future.” (Clare Bradford, FAHA, Emeritus Professor, Deakin University, Australia)