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Reading Citizens: Popular Literacy Programs and the Construction of the Chinese Political Subject, 1898-1937

Smith, Zach

I used the Columbia University Libraries 2013 Research award to conduct research vital
to my dissertation, which investigates the development of China’s first popular education
programs during the late Qing and early Republican period (1898-1937), which a focus on how
education reformers understood the relationship between literacy and citizenship. From July 28th
through August 16th, I conducted archival research using materials at the Rare Book and
Manuscript Library, the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, and using microfiche
materials available through general circulation at Columbia. While at Columbia, my research
focused primarily on the records of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR),
and specifically the institutional records of the Chinese National Association of Mass Education
Movements (MEM), co-founded by James Yen in 1923. These materials will form the
evidentiary basis for my dissertation’s fifth chapter, entitled “Reevaluating Literacy: The
Evolution of People’s Education and Local Experiments in the Rural Reconstruction Movement,
1926-1934.”

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