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Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture

The Annual Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture 2023-2024

Portrait of Professor Michael Nylan, older white female, dark blonde bob hairstyle, wears glasses, smiles, gray suit jacket white blouse

Michael Nylan (History, UC Berkeley) will speak on Majority Rule and Consortial Policymaking: The Evidence from Early China on Thursday, March 30 at 4:45 p.m. at the Physical Sciences Building Room 120. 

Inspired by Hu Shih’s many contributions to the study of Chinese history — among them, his careful outline of “the logical method in ancient China” and his many writings on “freedom” — this talk intends to challenge a popular narrative equating “Asian values” or, more narrowly, “Chinese tradition,” with “one-man, top-down rule.” The talk will instead show first, that a range of theoretical writings in classical Chinese advocate consortial rule and wide consultation.

History and Background

Hu Shih

On the 100th anniversary of the world-changing philosopher and statesman’s graduation from Cornell, EAP initiated an annual distinguished lecture in honor of Hu Shih. Leading scholars of Chinese and East Asian studies are invited to give a lecture on critical issues in their field of research. These lectures are archived as a resource for the Cornell community and beyond.

Past Hu Shih Distinguished Lectures

  • 2021-2022 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture - Tim Brook (History, University of British Columbia) Government for the People: Troubling Legacies of the Confucian Statecraft Tradition
  • 2020-2021 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture - Meir Shahar (Shoul N. Eisenberg Chair for East Asian Affairs, Tel Aviv University) Chinese Animal Gods
  • 2019-2020 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture - Dorothy Ko (Professor of History, Department of History, Department of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College)
    Gender and Material Culture: The Female Artisan Gu Erniang and the Craft of Inkstone-Making in Early Modern China
  • 2018-2019 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture - Victor Mair (Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania)
    An Important Dunhuang Manuscript Formerly in the Possession of Hu Shih: Transformation Text on the Subduing of Demons
  • 2017-2018 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture - Steven Sangren (Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University) Filial Piety and Its Discontents
  • 2016-2017 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture - Francesca Bray (Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh), and President of the International Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Hail the Maintainers: Rethinking Technology in Chinese History
  • 2015-2016 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture - Evelyn Rawski (Distinguished University Professor, Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh)
    Moving from Nation to Region: China in Northeast Asian History
  • 2014-2015 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture - Benjamin Elman (Gordon Wu '58 Professor of Chinese Studies, Princeton University)
    The Great Reversal: China, Korea, and Japan in the Early Modern World

Hu Shih, the Greatest Cornellian 

Sherman Cochran, the Hu Shih Professor of Chinese History, emeritus, presented the Cornell Contemporary China Initiative's inaugural lecture on November 20, 2015, making the case for Hu Shih '14, as the "greatest Cornellian." Cochran framed his lecture as a comparison between Hu Shih and other Cornell graduates: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg '54, novelist Thomas Pynchon '59, and professional football player and actor Ed Marinaro '72. Read more about the event.