MRI Forum 9

"Gutenberg comes to East Asia:
The Jesuit Mission Press in China & Japan (1590-1620)"

by M. Antoni J. Üçerler, S.J.,
Research Fellow, Jesuit Historical Institute (IHSI), Rome

Language: English  
Transcript: to view


Summary of the Presentation

An important moment in the encounter between the cultures of East Asia and Europe was the introduction of the Gutenberg Printing Press to Japan in 1590. The decision to have a hand-press brought from distant Portugal was taken by Alessandro Valignano, S.J. (1539-1606), the Italian Jesuit in charge of the East Asian missions of his Order. In 1588 the press arrived in Macau, where it was used to print several important works at the College of St. Paul. The Jesuit missionaries thus adopted the newest invention of the first IT revolution in Europe. They hoped it would allow them to make Christian devotional and theological literature as well as other Western scholarly works, printed in Chinese characters, available to a large audience in China and Japan. The lecture will tell the story of this fascinating attempt at intercultural and inter-religious communication.

Profile of the Speaker

Dr M. Antoni J. Üçerler, S.J., is a Research Fellow at the Jesuit Historical Institute (IHSI) in Rome and an Associate Member of the Macau Ricci Institute. He has previously lived for many years in Japan, where he taught comparative intellectual history at Sophia University in Tokyo. His main research interests are the history of European Expansion in East Asia during the 15th to 17th centuries and the history of Christianity in Japan and China.