Beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, as the intensified Western aggressions expedited the Qing Empire’s decline, Chinese sociocultural elites started to question the value and relevance of their traditional knowledge system. Believing knowledge to be the secret behind the rise of the Western powers, these elites avidly consumed so-called New Learning (xinxue), that is, general, mostly Western knowledge that was new and foreign for China.1 Importing, translating, and reading books containing Western knowledge were deemed urgent tasks, crucial to the survival of China. As the renowned reformer Liang Qichao (1873–1929) put it, “if a nation wants to strengthen itself, it should translate more Western books; if a student wants to stand on his own feet, he should read more Western books.”2
The Fall 2018 issue of the GHI Bulletin contains a forum entitled “Knowledge and Copyright in Historical Perspective,” edited by Sarah Beringer and Atiba Pertilla. The forum in this free access publication comprises an introduction and three articles:
- “Mondrian’s Dress: Copying (and) the Couture Copy” by Nancy J. Troy;
- “Japanese Industrial Espionage, Foreign Direct Investment, and the Decline of the U.S. Industrial Base in the 1980s,” by Mario Daniels;
- “Why Are Universities Open-Access Laggards?” by Peter Baldwin.