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Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture

The 2023-2024 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture 

Haun Saussy white male, wearing dark rimmed glasses, blonde receeding hairline, wears a pinstriped light shirt and sits in front of a book case and green shaded lamp.

The East Asia Program was honored to have Haun Saussy (East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago) give the 2023-2024 Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture "Exile As Formative Experience in Classical Chinese Poetry". It was held and recorded on Thursday, November 9, 2023. View the lecture video.

Lecture description: The “myth of loyalty and dissent” (as Laurence Schneider put it) surrounding the figure of Qu Yuan has structured a great many self-representations by cast-off officials. But when poets banished to the margins of the empire adopt Qu Yuan as a source of style and allusion, the result is, often enough, a gain in descriptive and evocative power. By calling the experience of exile “formative” in the cases of Xie Lingyun 謝靈運, Shen Quanqi 沈全期, Song Zhiwen 宋之問, and Su Shi 蘇軾, I aim to put biography in second place. What occupies the foreground is rather the fashioning of transpersonal roles and attitudes that could be adopted by later poets— replicating the author-function that had made Qu Yuan such a powerful reference.

The East Asia Program is proud to sponsor the Hu Shih Distinguished lecture along with the Departments of Asian Studies, History, and the Society for the Humanities at Cornell.

History and Background

Hu Shih

In 2014 on the 100th anniversary of Hu Shih's graduation from Cornell, EAP initiated an annual distinguished lecture in honor of the philosopher and statesman. Leading scholars of Chinese and East Asian studies are invited to speak on critical issues in their field of research. These lectures are archived as a resource for the Cornell community and beyond. Learn more about one of Cornell's most distinguished alumni, Hu Shih.

  • Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture videos and programs are permanently archived in the Cornell eCommons.

Past Hu Shih Distinguished Lectures

  • 2022-2023 - Michael Nylan (History, UC Berkeley ) "Majority Rule and Consortial Policymaking: The Evidence from Early China"
  • 2021-2022 - Tim Brook (History, University of British Columbia), "Government for the People: Troubling Legacies of the Confucian Statecraft Tradition"
  • 2020-2021 - Meir Shahar (East Asian Studies, Tel Aviv University), "Chinese Animal Gods"
  • 2019-2020 - Dorothy Ko (History, Barnard College), "Gender and Material Culture: The Female Artisan Gu Erniang and the Craft of Inkstone-Making in Early Modern China"
  • 2018-2019 - Victor Mair (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 - Steven Sangren (Anthropology, Cornell University), "Filial Piety and Its Discontents"
  • 2016-2017 - Francesca Bray (Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh), "Hail the Maintainers: Rethinking Technology in Chinese History"
  • 2015-2016 - Evelyn Rawski (History, University of Pittsburgh), "Moving from Nation to Region: China in Northeast Asian History"
  • 2014-2015 - Benjamin Elman (East Asian 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 Emeritus of Chinese History, 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.

Hu Shih in front of the Cornell seal