Famed History Professor Spence to Discuss China

Jonathan Spence, Sterling Professor of History at Yale University since 1993 and one of the world’s foremost scholars on Chinese history, is coming to speak about China’s emergence as a superpower in the modern world at the Academy. Professor Spence will discuss how China’s history has shaped and affected its current position as an emerging superpower in the modern world. Prof. Spence is a native of England and holds a B.A. from Clare College at Cambridge University, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the student paper, Varsity, and co-editor of the school’s literary magazine. Prof. Spence went on to Yale as a student to study Chinese history; he so excelled that his professor arranged for him to study under Fang Chao-ying, Ch’ing (Manchu) dynasty biographer. His PhD dissertation earned the John Addison Porter Prize In 1965, Prof. Spence returned to Yale to become a professor. He moved through each level until 1993, when the University honored him with its highest rank, naming him a Sterling Professor of History. The title is given to those professors considered the best in their field; there are currently 38 Sterling Professors at Yale. As one of the foremost scholars on Chinese history since the sixteenth century, Prof. Spence has written and published many books on the role of history in shaping modern China. His critically acclaimed book The Search for Modern China has become a standard text in the studies in the last several hundred years of Chinese history. Eight American colleges have bestowed him with honorary degrees. His other, numerous honors consist of: the William C. DeVane Medal of the Yale Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1978, the Los Angeles Times History Prize in 1982, and the Vursel Prize of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983. Prof. Spence was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1985, a MacArthur Fellow in 1988, and was also appointed to the Council of Scholars at the Library of Congress in the same year. He served as President for the American Historical Association (AHA) for the 2004-2005 term, an organization founded to promote the study and preservation of history. Prof. Spence is another component to the 2006 Andover Symposium: The Challenges of Globalization, which strives to bring speakers to campus to discuss pertinent issues such as globalization, global citizenship, and challenges facing the world. Instructor in Social Science Derek Williams, who organized the Symposium, said, “This effort is intrinsic to the Academy’s mission to nourish within its students a commitment to world affairs and a sense of public service.”