This chapter explores the practicalities of empire and colonialism as these affected the conditions of cultural production under Roman rule and adumbrates contours of enquiry within several such domains. It commences with general remarks on the fit between ancient empire as a political form and the regular features of early modern and modern experience that gave rise to contemporary postcolonial theory. Subsequent sections explore the metropolitan desire for knowledge pursuant to governance; the responses that this desire generated in colonial contexts, in both conduct and self-understanding; and the lingering power of imperial knowledge in ancient and modern scholarship. The essay closes by enquiring into nature of elite cultural production under Rome, asking how imperial were the empire’s elites and how metropolitan were their tastes.
Classical Chinese literature exerts a powerful hold on readers and writers in later periods. The question of how earlier literature was preserved, classified, anthologized, and distributed is vital for understanding how authors defined their creative and interpretive endeavors during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Printing expanded, with a dramatic increase in numbers and variety in the sixteenth century. For many of the texts discussed in our volume, the earliest extant editions or reconstituted versions date from the Ming dynasty, and many important commentaries and annotations were produced during the late imperial period. Encyclopedias and collectanea show how tradition is repackaged. Political legitimation is bound up with state-sponsored comprehensive collections and encyclopedias. Anthologies of earlier literature and commentaries on them yield insights into literary trends in later periods. Primers and textbooks demonstrate the role of classical literature in acquiring basic linguistic and literary competence.