Section Home

Power of the Brush: An Alternative Interpretation of Chinese Writing



Contact Name

Honors Program

Contact Phone


Honors Program presents a seminar in Power of the Brush: An Alternative Interpretation of Chinese Writing by Professor Junli Diao, Assistant Professor, Head of Cataloging & Serials.

Which writing system is not only one of the oldest, but also the only ancient one still in use? Which writing system was considered as cultural, social, and political trinity that spoke to the depth of a people’s emotion as an artistic expression, and at the same time served as a political consideration strengthening the nation’s identity over the course of its history? Generally speaking, writing enables mankind to document its history. Through writing, information is recorded in documents, documents are compiled into books and books are collected in libraries. Therefore, writing gives birth to libraries and libraries would neither exist nor continue without writing. However, public libraries in China were not a self-generated social institution; on the contrary, they were first brought in and established by Western missionaries at the end of 19th century. The question is why and how does it relate to the Chinese writing system? This seminar will present how this curiosity evolved into a research publication and it explores the dynamic and cohesive relationship between individuals, society, and nation in pre-modern China. 

Prior to joining in York College’s library team as Assistant Professor/Head of Cataloging & Serials, Professor Diao worked as an Assistant Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, Cataloging & Metadata Librarian in Florida International University, and Chinese Manuscripts and Rare Books Librarian at New York Public Library. Professor Diao graduated from two prestigious Canadian universities: McGill University with a Master in Library and Information Studies in 2006 and Queen’s University with a second Master in Education in 2004. As a productive library faculty and researcher with an interdisciplinary approach, Professor Diao’s research interests focus on the intersection of library, history and writing through the lens of a comparative perspective (both the East and the West). His research that reevaluated the library legacy in cataloging and classification advanced critical thinking and stimulated intelligent conversations in the library community. Professor Diao is also interested in creative writing, such as essays and poems.