Australian Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke, assistant professor at Boston College,has launched a searchable website he calls “Beyond Ricci” that gives scholars and researchers online access to newly digitized books containing historical narratives, maps, correspondence and musical compositions in five languages that depict life in China in early modern history and the East-West exchanges initiated by the early Jesuit missionaries. The site was launched in late July.
“This website takes knowledge and information that is rare and beautiful and puts it into the academic domain providing an interdisciplinary resource for scholars and students of disciplines ranging from history and geography, to Latin and Chinese,” Father Clarke said in a statement.
His project was funded through a grant from the Academic Teaching Advisory Board and the Office of the Provost at Boston College. It was a year in the making, with the priest working with the Jesuitana Collection at the university’s Burns Library.
Father Clarke calls it “a labor of love and an act of homage to my Jesuit brothers and their Chinese counterparts whose remarkable scholarship is preserved in these rare books that will now be available to visitors from Chestnut Hill to Canberra, San Francisco to Shanghai.”
Here’s a sampling of items that can be accessed on the site: melody lines from the Chinese Imperial Court transcribed by the Jesuits in the mid-18th century; a translation of Confucian texts by the Jesuit missionaries that represented the first introduction of Confucius to the Western world; and an extensively detailed 18th-century atlas.