Shaoling Ma's Stone and the Wireless: Mediating China, 1861–1906 is an investigation of mediation in the final decades of the Qing empire (1644–1912), when China was forcefully incorporated into an uneven world order. The beautifully titled book foregrounds mediation rather than media as a theoretical framework for scrutinizing the relationship between media technologies and discursive practices. It constantly straddles the fluid border between technologies of inscription and their cultural, literary, and symbolic ramifications. In contrast to many recent studies, Ma does not treat media technologies as discrete artifacts. This is not a book on a singular medium like the phonograph or the telegraph. Understanding late Qing technology and culture, she argues, can take place only through demonstrating how different media bled into one another both technologically and discursively. As such, instead of taking a single medium, she explores them all. It's a whirlwind of ideas. Print, photography, stereography, telegraphy, and...

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