China Seminar | 9 September 2010

Courtesan, Poet, Historian: Continuing the Nightingales-Magpies Theme

Daniel W. Y. Kwok Daniel W. Y. Kwok

“Rather a famed courtesan true than a famed scholar false,” said the eighteenth-century literatusYuan Mei of the first two figures of today’s talk who livened Late-Ming (16th-17th century) romance and politics. Three hundred years later, historian true Chen Yinque devoted three volumes of biography to the famed courtesan, while blind during the ten years of its writing and completing it in the throes of the Cultural Revolution. Strange? How so?

Founding convener of the China Seminar, Daniel Kwok is professor emeritus of history at the University of Hawaii, where since 1961 he served at intervals as Director of Asia Studies, Chair of the Department of History, Director of the Center of Chinese Studies, founder of the Gannett/Freedom Forum Asia Fellowships for Journalists while offering courses in Chinese intellectual history, the general history of China and World History. He has held visiting distinguished professorships at University of Hong Kong, Nanyang University and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. An honorary professor of the Committee on Humanities Research of the Chinese National Education Commission, Kwok was also a Senior Fellow (1968-69) and a Senior Adjunct Fellow (2008-09) at the East-West Center. He publishes mainly in Chinese intellectual history.