Yun Xie wins 2022 Tiele thesis award

Yun Xie ontvangt Tiele-scriptieprijs 2022

Yun Xie has won the 2022 Tiele Thesis Prize for her master’s thesis Republic of Characters: A Social Network Centred on the Hong Kong Type. The jury was impressed by Yun’s “exemplary, innovative, and above all engaging way” of describing the social network centred around the Hong Kong type.


Yun wrote her thesis to complete the research Master’s programme Art History. She studied the 19th-century lead Chinese characters used by Dutch printers in publications for the then Dutch East Indies. Designing and using the characters presented unique challenges for type designers and printers worldwide.

Recently, authentic moulds surfaced at the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. Yun mapped the history of these moulds, focusing on the different roles of sinologists, letter designers, and missionaries, for example.

The main lesson Yun learnt while writing her thesis is the value of sharing experiences and knowledge. As many libraries and archives were not accessible during the pandemic, she relied heavily on the knowledge and experience of others. “I benefited from a knowledge community and am therefore determined to return the favour.”

I benefited from a knowledge community and am therefore determined to return the favour.

Decolonisation and identity

Yun is currently preparing a PhD research project building on the topic of her Master’s thesis. As far as she is concerned, the topic has great potential: it not only deals with book history in the Netherlands, but also global intellectual history and ‘aesthetic’ cultural differences.

The jury agrees and hopes Yun’s thesis will be published for a wider audience. “Decolonisation and identity play an important role in this thesis. The author’s view on that subject, which is now very much in vogue in European museums, deserves much broader attention than that of book scholars interested in fonts.”

Tiele thesis award

Since 2003, the Dr P.A. Tiele Foundation – founded in 1953 and named after the renowned bibliographer and librarian Dr P.A. Tiele (1834-1889) – has taken the form of a book studies cooperative society in which virtually all academic and market-affiliated organisations and institutions in the field are represented.

The Tiele thesis award was established to encourage reflection on the book in all its manifestations past, present and future. The prize is sponsored by the Nederlandse Taalunie and consists of a cash prize of 1,000 euros and a grant of up to 1,000 euros for a book publication from the Stichting Frederik Mullerfonds.