Journal of East China Normal University(Educational Sciences) ›› 2022, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (10): 117-126.doi: 10.16382/j.cnki.1000-5560.2022.10.011

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Enlightenment via Pictures and Forging Citizens: An Analysis Focusing on Vulgar Pictorials in Late Qing

Huimei Zhou   

  1. Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Accepted:2022-04-17 Online:2022-10-01 Published:2022-09-29


Reading was considered to be a graceful activity in traditional Chinese value. However, it gradually became an outdated opinion with the popularity of vulgar pictorials in late Qing. The appearance of vulgar pictorials in large amount, which imitated the models established by foreign pictorials as well as continued the Chinese tradition of left picture right historical narrative, and which was low in price but balanced entertainment and aesthetic, provided a knowledge warehouse for the populace (including females and children). Reading became part of the daily life of the populace who had little knowledge. The contents those vulgar pictorials presented, included not only the cultural images and interpretations articulated by the government and elites, but also the processed images and interpretations articulated by publishers and the authors who drew those pictures. The generalization of those vulgar pictorials provided the public opinions and practical experiences for the establishment of modern social education. The influence on the social value brought by those vulgar pictorials echoed to the cultural interaction between elite and populace.

Key words: pictorials in late Qing, vulgar, enlightenment via pictures, forging citizens