Department of History

Cynthia Brokaw

Chen Family Professor of China Studies, Professor of History and East Asian Studies
202 Peter Green
Areas of Expertise East Asia
Office Hours Tuesdays, 9:00-10:00am and 11:00am-12:00pm


Cynthia Brokaw is a historian of early modern China, specializing in social history and the history of the book. She is the author of The Ledgers of Merit and Demerit: Social Change and Moral Order in Late Imperial China (Princeton University Press, 1991), a study of the intersection between popular religious beliefs and social ideologies in the late Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Her second book, Commerce in Culture: The Sibao Book Trade in the Qing and Republican Periods (Harvard University Asia Center, 2007) draws on extensive field and archival work in southeastern China to reconstruct the development of a rural book-publishing industry active in producing and disseminating popular texts throughout south China from the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries. She has also co-edited several essay collections and one online journal issue on book history: Printing and Book Culture in Late Imperial China (University of California Press, 2005), with Kai-wing Chow; From Woodblocks to the Internet: Chinese Publishing and Print Culture in Transition, circa 1800 to 2008 (Brill, 2010), with Christopher Reed; The History of the Book in East Asia (Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2013), with Peter Kornicki; and "Publishing for Daily Life in Early Modern East Asia," Lingua Franca 6 (2020), with Joan Judge. Her current projects include a study of elite reading practices and their impact on political discourse in the nineteenth century; and ongoing research on the expansion of commercial publishing and a popular book market in the Qing.