Jonathan Spence

by Academy of Achievement

Jonathan Spence
  • Language: eng
  • Episodes: 2
  • Last: 3 Jul 2008
Over the last 40 years, Jonathan Spence of Yale University has become the West's leading authority on Chinese history. His books, such as The Gate of Heavenly Peace and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, have brought remote times and places to life for the general reading public, while The Search for Modern China has become a standard text in universities around the world. The undergraduate course he teaches on the modern history of China is among the most popular ever given at Yale. Year after year, a new class of students packs the lecture hall to enjoy his spellbinding presentation. Born and educated in England, Spence did not discover his passion for Chinese studies until he came to Yale University, from Clare College, Cambridge, on a Mellon Fellowship. While still a graduate student, he became the first Westerner to study the confidential correspondence of the Manchu (Qing Dynasty) Emperors, preserved at the Palace Museum in Taiwan. The resulting dissertation became his first book, Ts'ao Yin and the K'ang-hsi Emperor: Bondservant and Master, published in 1966. The same year, Spence joined the Yale history faculty. It is Spence's distinctive achievement to make the life of a single person -- whether an emperor or a commoner -- reveal the essence of an entire era. His powers of description far exceed those of the conventional academic historian, and he brings historical figures to life as vividly as characters in a novel. Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'ang-hsi presents a Qing Dynasty monarch in his own words, and reached an audience beyond the world of China scholars. The Death of Woman Wang affords us a view of Qing society as seen through the lives of ordinary people, and has become a classic, read by nearly all students of Chinese history. His latest book is Return to Dragon Mountain: Memories of a Late Ming Man. Professor Spence lives most of the year in West Haven, Connecticut with his wife, Annping Chin, also a scholar of Chinese history. Since 1974, he has made frequent trips to China to further his research. In recent years, he has also served as a visiting professor at Beijing University.

Episodes (2)

  • Jonathan Spence (SD)
    Jonathan Spence (SD)
    video is inside
    Published: 3 Jul 2008 Duration: 17:13
    Over the last 40 years, Jonathan Spence of Yale University has become the West's leading authority on Chinese history. His books, such as The Gate of Heavenly Peace and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, have brought remote times and places... Read more →
    Over the last 40 years, Jonathan Spence of Yale University has become the West's leading authority on Chinese history. His books, such as The Gate of Heavenly Peace and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, have brought remote times and places... Read more →

  • Jonathan Spence (HD)
    Jonathan Spence (HD)
    video is inside
    Published: 3 Jul 2008 Duration: 17:13
    Over the last 40 years, Jonathan Spence of Yale University has become the West's leading authority on Chinese history. His books, such as The Gate of Heavenly Peace and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, have brought remote times and places... Read more →
    Over the last 40 years, Jonathan Spence of Yale University has become the West's leading authority on Chinese history. His books, such as The Gate of Heavenly Peace and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, have brought remote times and places... Read more →

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