Transforming the East researches Jesuit readings of the Chinese classics and their dissemination in Early Modern and Enlightenment Europe (ca. 1590-1773). The project connects scholars at the University of Sydney and Sun Yat-sen University interested in the ways in which Jesuit missionaries to China translated a number of the Confucian Classics into Latin and other European languages. It aims to analyse early Western attempts to understand Chinese literature and philosophy and to document which texts were translated and how they spread to Europe.

By mapping Europe’s first encounter with Chinese thought, this website contributes to the history of Sino-European intellectual encounters and to the philological analysis of Jesuit translations.

Please feel free to contact the project’s lead chief investigator, Francesco Borghesi, if you would like further information or are interested in collaborating.

International Conference Missionaries, Languages, East Asia (XVI-XX Century). Bologna, 24th-26th June 2024. Click to explore the Program!

Images in carousel:

  1. 坤舆万国全图 World map Kunyu Wanguo Quantu by Matteo Ricci (1602), Kano Collection, Tohoku University Library, Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain.
  2. Confucius sinarum philosophus (1687), University of Sydney Library, Rare Books and Special Collections (Shelf mark: RB 3687.1). Sinarum scientia politico moralis (1687), front page and first page, anastatic reprint, Giuseppe Dossetti Library, Bologna (Shelf mark: ARMA I P01).
  3. Portrait of Zhu Xi (朱熹), from Letter to the Commandery Administrator Huizhi (1194), National Palace Museum, Taipei, Open Data.
  4. From left to right: Portrait of Michael Alphonsius Shen Fu-Tsung SJ by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1687), Royal Collection, Windsor; Portrait of Emperor Qianlong by Giuseppe Castiglione SJ (1736), The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; Portrait of Nicholas Trigault by Paul Rubens (1617), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain.
  5. Kircher’s China Illustrata (1667), anastatic reprint, Giuseppe Dossetti Library, Bologna (Shelf mark: U IX 34).