Humanities Institute

Paul and Mary Ho Distinguished Lecture in China Studies

Upcoming Lectures

Evan Osnos2016-2017: Evan Osnos

"Age of Ambition: Truth, Faith, and Fortune in China"

For China, it is a time of transition and transformation. From the country’s thriving and evolving economy to the relationship between the Chinese government and its people to the perception of the nation around the globe, this lecture tracks China as it continues its upward trajectory as global superpower and what that means for everyone. Using his years of experience as the New Yorker’s Beijing correspondent, Evan Osnos shares his 360-degree perspective of the most talked about country in the world.

New Yorker correspondent and National Book Award-winning author of Age of Ambition, Evan Osnos specializes in politics, foreign affairs, and all things related to China. Osnos has written in-depth profiles and essays on many of America’s and China’s most influential cultural, political, and business figures, including Vice President Joe Biden, President Xi Jinping, artist and activist Ai Weiwei, and Donald Trump.

Osnos won the 2014 National Book Award for Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. Based on his eight years living in Beijing, the book is a multi-layered look at the rise of the individual in China and the clash between aspiration and authoritarianism.

A Pulitzer Prize-finalist, Age of Ambition was called “a splendid and entertaining picture of 21st-century China” by The Wall Street Journal. The San Francisco Chronicle said it was “by far the most thoughtful and well-crafted work on China written by an American journalist in recent years.”

Turning his sights towards America, Osnos has covered the 2016 presidential election, gun control in America, modern conservatism, and the Flint Water Crisis. In 2003, he embedded himself with the US Marines during the invasion of Iraq and spent two years as the Tribune’s Middle East Correspondent. His piece “The Fallout,” about the events and aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, won a 2012 Overseas Press Club Award.

Prior to The New Yorker, Osnos worked as the Beijing Bureau Chief of the Chicago Tribune, where he contributed to a series on the global trade in unsafe imports that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. He was the 2007 recipient of the Livingston Award, the nation’s leading prize for young journalists, and the Asia Society’s Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia.

Osnos graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. A fellow at the Brookings Institution, he is a contributor on This American Life and Frontline and has made numerous appearances on Charlie Rose, Morning Joe, and Fareed Zakaria GPS.

The lecture will take place on March 8, 2017 at 7pm in the Belo New Media Center Auditorium. Evan Osnos will be available for a book signing prior to the lecture at 6pm. To learn more about this event, please visit our Events page. 


Past Lectures

2014-2015: Dr. Eugenia Lean

"Fabricating the Future: Coastal Cuttlefish, Magnesium Carbonate, and a Strong Dose of Vernacular Industrialism in Early Twentieth-century China"

Dr. Eugenia Lean is Associate Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University. She received her BA from Stanford, and her MA and PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She joined the Columbia faculty in 2002. The American Historical Association awarded the 2007 John K. Fairbank prize for the best book in modern East Asian history to her book, Popular Passions: The Trial of Shi Jianqiao and the Rise of Popular Sympathy in Republican China (University of California Press 2007). In 1935, Shi Jianqiao avenged the death of her father by murdering his killer, the warlord Sun Chuanfang as knelt in prayer in a Buddhist temple. The book examines both the crime and the subsequent trial, demonstrating how public sentiment—as galvanized by Shi Jianqiao and her defense team, and fueled by popular media—played an important role in her eventual exoneration. Lean uses the events to describe passion as an important part of the formation of a critical urban public.

Her lecture, Fabricating the Future: Coastal Cuttlefish, Magnesium Carbonate, and a Strong Dose of Vernacular Industrialism in Early Twentieth-century China, drew from her research project, Manufacturing Modernity: Chen Diexian, A Chinese Man-of-Letters in an Age of Industrial Capitalism. This project examines the intersection among vernacular science, commerce, and the ways in which knowledge and things are authenticated in an era of mass communication.  The American Council of Learned Societies supported this project through a 2010-2011 Charles Ryskamp award.


2012-2013: Dr. Jeffrey WasserstromDr. Wasserstrom

"Public Speech and Private Dreams in a Fast Changing China, 1987 to 2012"

Historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom, of the University of California at Irvine, delivered the 2012 Ho Distinguished Lecture in China Studies on Wednesday, September 12.  Dr. Wasserstrom’s talk, "Public Speech and Private Dreams in a Fast Changing China, 1987 to 2012," is the first lecture in the Humanities Institute’s series on “Public and Private.”  The talk drew on Wasserstrom’s many years of research in China, represented in many scholarly and general interest publications, including Student Protests in China: The View from Shanghai (Stanford, 1991) and China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2010). Wasserstrom is editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, and reaches out to a broad public through contributing to an Irvine-based blog, The China Beat: Blogging How the East is Read, serving as a consultant for documentary films, and appearing on NPR news programming.


2011-2012: Dr. Lisa RofelLisa Rofel

"The 21st Century Silk Road Between China and Italy"

As part of the fifth Paul and Mary Ho Lecturer in China Studies, the Humanities Institute was proud to welcome Dr. Lisa Rofel from the University of California, Santa Cruz . She gave a talk on “The 21st Century Silk Road Between China and Italy”.

Dr. Rofel is a Professor of Anthropology who researches urban political economy and culture in contemporary China.  Dr. Rofel is the author of Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism (University of California Press 1999) and Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality and Public Culture (Duke University Press 2007).  The talk concerned her research on trade relations and textile production.


Dr. Jing Wang with Mary Ho2009-2010: Dr. Jing Wang

"NGO 2.0: An Experiment with Social Media in China"

Professor Jing Wang received her Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She taught at Duke University for sixteen years before joining the MIT FL&L faculty. She is the founder and organizer of New Media Action Lab (NMAL) – previously known as the MIT International Initiative of Critical Policy Studies of China. Professor Wang also serves as the Chair of the International Advisory Board of Creative Commons in China. She directed a digital animation project in collaboration with the Beijing Film Academy and MIT Comparative Media Studies. In spring 2009 she launched an NGO 2.0 project ("Chinese NGOs in the Web 2.0 Environment") undertaken in collaboration with the University of Science and Technology of China and three Chinese NGO partner organizations.

(Photo: Mary Ho and Jing Wang)

Professor Wang published several books and articles, among them, the award-winning The Story of StoneHigh Culture Fever, and the editor of Locating China: Space, Place, and Popular Culture (available in Paperback from Routledge), Popular Culture and the Chinese StateChina’s Avant-Garde Fiction,Cinema and Desire (with Tani Barlow). Her research interests include branding and marketing, advertising and new media, popular culture, and media and cultural policies, with an area focus on the People’s Republic of China. Her book Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture is now available from Harvard University Press.


Dr. Andrew Nathan2008-2009: Dr. Andrew Nathan

"China’s Challenge to Human Rights: Repression at Home and ’Peaceful Rising’ Abroad"

Dr. Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, is an eminent scholar of Chinese politics and foreign policy, the comparative study of political participation and political culture, and human rights. His myriad publications include China’s Crisis (1990); China’s Transition (1997); The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress: China's Search for Security (1997); The Tiananmen Papers (2001); andConstructing Human Rights in the Age of Globalization (2003). He chaired the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch, Asia, 1995-2000, and continues his involvement with that group. He also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee on US-China Relations. His research involves the comparative study of political culture and political participation in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other Asian societies.


Erik Mueggler2007-2008: Erik Mueggler

"A World of Slobber and Slime: British Imperial Botany, Technology, and Bewilderment in the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands"

Professor Erik Mueggler, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, was selected to deliver the second annual Paul and Mary Ho Distinguished Lecture in China Studies. Professor Mueggler's presentation also contributed to the Humanities Institute's 2007-8 Distinguished Visiting Lecturers Series on the theme of "Imagining the Human." Entitled "'A World of Slobber and Slime': British Imperial Botany, Technology, and Bewilderment in the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands," the lecture was presented on Wednesday, February 6, 2008, at 7:30 pm in the Avaya Auditorium (ACE 2.302).

Erik Mueggler is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and an affiliate of Michigan's Center for Chinese Studies and Center for the Ethnography of Everyday Life. His fieldwork, scholarship, and teaching focus on the politics of ritual, religion, science, and nature in the border regions of China. The author of The Age of Wild Ghosts: Memory, Violence and Place in Southwest China, he is currently reconstructing the history of British botanical exploration in China's southwest borderlands with an emphasis on the relations of these explorers to the mountain inhabitants who worked as their guides, porters, and collectors.


Gail Hershatter2006-2007: Gail Hershatter

"The Gender of Memory: Rural Women, Labor, and Collectivization in Early Socialist China"

Professor Gail B. Hershatter, of the University of California at Santa Cruz, was selected to deliver the inaugural Paul and Mary Ho Distinguished Lecture in China Studies, an endowed annual public lecture named for the two University of Texas at Austin faculty members who presented the generous gift. Professor Hershatter's presentation also contributed to the Humanities Institute's 2006-7 Distinguished Visiting Lecturers Series on the theme of "Labor and Leisure." Entitled "The Gender of Memory: Rural Women, Labor, and Collectivization in Early Socialist China," the lecture was presented on Wednesday, October 25, 2006, at 7:30 pm in the Art Auditorium (ART 1.102). All lectures in the Institute's Visiting Lecturers Series, including the Ho Distinguished Lecture in China Studies, are free and intended for both a campus and a general community audience.

An historian, Professor Hershatter's research focuses on modern Chinese social and cultural history, women's history, as well as sexuality studies and feminist theory. Her book, Dangerous Pleasures: Prostitution and Modernity in 20th-Century Shanghai, received the 1997 American Historical Association's Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in Women's History, and has since been translated into Chinese. An active participant in interdisciplinary studies at UC Santa Cruz, Professor Hershatter is the Co-Director of the Center for Cultural Studies and a former Director and current Executive Committee member of the Institute for Humanities Research. In 2003, she also received the John Dizikes Teaching Award in the Humanities.


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