Ulug Kuzuoglu “Informed Minds: Communication, Cognition, and Script in China, 1892-1955”
Informed Minds: Communication, Cognition, and Script in China, 1892-1955
My dissertation, “Informed Minds: Communication, Cognition, and Script in China, 1892-1955,” explores the history of Chinese script reforms from 1892 to 1955. I argue that Chinese demands for script reforms reflects a larger technological and epistemological transformation that China underwent in the second half of the nineteenth century, which not only altered the meaning of communication, language, and writing, but also brought a new concept of cognition to China: cerebral cognition. Weaving together the history of brain and psychology with the history of communication and information technologies, my dissertation contends that concerns about Chinese script signified more than linguistic modernization. The human body in China historically became a machine that gathered and transmitted information, with the brain as its main communicative organ, and the human subject became one that was informed, through education, literacy, propaganda and other measures of controlling information, all of which had the script at their center. I argue that the double helix of communication and cognition signaled a new, psy-political regime in which the script gradually became a governmental tool to control information and create new minds.
Ulug Kuzuoglu was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, and received his BA in Sociology and MA in History from Bogazici University. After spending close to two years in China, he started his graduate studies at Columbia University’s International and Global History Program in 2011. Having studied classical and modern Chinese, Japanese, and Russian, while maintaining a lifelong interest in Turkish, Ottoman and Central Asian languages, he has developed a deep interest in questions concerning the history and philosophy of language, writing, and information. Funded by Social Science Research Foundation, ACLS/Henry Luce Foundation, and the Chinese Government, he is stationed in China until July, 2015, to conduct research for his dissertation.