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American Iconography of Macedonian Calls: Leung A-Fa’s Conversion to Print Evangelism and the Imperial Crosscurrents of the Canton Mission Press

As a printer and distributor of evangelical tracts, Leung A-Fa captured the imagination of the first US missionaries to China as they established and operated the Canton Mission Press in the decades leading to and through the Opium Wars. The Canton Mission Press was but one station in a global system of print communication administrated by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) headquartered in Boston. The lecture considers the representation of Leung A-Fa in the ABCFM’s layered accounts of global print endeavours that stretched from the continental “Far West” to a circuit of printing stations in the “Far East.” His representation registers ideological “crosscurrents” of antebellum US imperialism in iconography of the Macedonian Call—an iconography that invoked trade reciprocity as a moral imperative and the free press as a vehicle of regulating revivalist enthusiasm.


As an interdisciplinary scholar of early American and British literatures, Prof. Johnson researches material print culture in the historical contexts of commerce and diplomacy. He is the author of Henry James and the Visual (2007) and The New Middle Kingdom: China and the Early American Romance of Free Trade (2017). He has edited and co-edited several collections, including Oceanic Archives (2019; with Otto Heim and Yuan Shu). His articles have appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, American Literary History (ALH), American Quarterly, Literature and History, and elsewhere. A recent contribution to The Oxford Handbook of Twentieth-Century American Literature (2022) addresses the affective charge of opium smoking in Emily Hahn’s review of George Santayana’s novel The Last Puritan. 

Zoom Details

Zoom link: https://hku.zoom.us/j/96451929348?pwd=Z3JIZTFHY3pEUlpYZ0FBRTRha01LZz09 

Meeting ID: 964 5192 9348
Password: 012256