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Seeking Modernity in China’s Name: Chinese Students in the United States 1900-1927

September 24, 2022 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

On August 11, 1872, a group of 30 Chinese government-sponsored students departed from Shanghai and embarked on a transpacific journey to study in the United States. They were led by Yung Wing, presumably the first Chinese student to have studied in the U.S. from 1847-1854. This history-making journey has since been referred to by researchers as the first wave of the Chinese youth studying in the U.S.

To mark the 150th anniversary of this historical event and the 110th anniversary of the passing of Yung Wing, the Renwen Society presents a lecture on September 24 by Dr. Ye Weili, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Prof. Ye is the author of Seeking Modernity in China’s Name: Chinese Students in the United States 1900-1927 (Stanford University Press, 2002). The book focuses on what the author calls “the second wave” of the Chinese youth who came to the U.S. to study in the early decades of the 20th century. The book examines various aspects of their experience, including “associational life,” academic studies, the “race” question they faced, love and marriage, and recreational activities. There is also a chapter on the story of female students. It was in the “dual” contexts of America and China, both countries undergoing profound political, social and cultural transformations respectively, that the Chinese students were “seeking modernity in China’s name.” The author argues that “modernity” to these young Chinese men and women was not an abstract concept, but rather “lived experience”. At this lecture, Prof. Ye will share with the audience some of her major findings in her book.

An international student herself, Prof. Ye Weili came to pursue graduate studies in the U.S. in the early 1980s. She received a Ph.D. in history from Yale University, alma mater of Yung Wing. With a specialization in modern Chinese history, Prof. Ye had taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston more than 20 years. She is the author of a number of publications, including both books and articles, in English as well as Chinese.


为纪念中国学生留美史上这个重要日子和重要人物,华美人文学会特邀美国马萨诸塞州州立大学波士顿分校(University of Massachusetts at Boston)历史系荣休教授叶维丽博士于美东时间9月24日晚8时至9时半(北京时间8时至9时半)做《为中国寻找现代之路:中国留学生在美国 1900-1927》专题讲座。《为中国寻找现代之路:中国留学生在美国 1900-1927》是叶维丽教授英文著作Seeking Modernity in China’s Name: Chinese Students in the United States 1900-1927(2002年斯坦福大学出版社出版;北京大学出版社2012年翻译出版中文版、2017年再版)的书名。1900-1927是中国留美史上的一个重要时期,这27年间有众多中国杰出学子留美,学成回国后成为五四新文化运动和各行各业的领军人物。

叶维丽教授在《为中国寻找现代之路》一书中考察了继容闳1870年代率“幼童”留学美国之后,于20世纪头几十年里赴美留学的“第二波”中国学生情况,包括他们的社团活动、专业学习、如何面对“种族问题”、爱情和婚姻、以及“休闲”活动等,并有一章专门讲述女留学生的故事。叶教授将那一代中国留学生的经历置于该历史节点的政治、社会和文化的变动之中,把他们看作是在中美两国均经历着深刻变化以至转型的“双重“背景之下“为中国寻找现代之路”。叶教授认为,“现代”对这些留美中国人来说,与其说是抽象的理念,毋宁说是日常的、“活的体验”(lived experience)。叶教授在此次讲座中将讲述她在书中考察的这一时期中国学生的有关情况。



September 24, 2022
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
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