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China: A New Cultural History

by Cho-yun Hsu Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 632 pages
AU$99.00 NZ$106.09
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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An internationally recognized authority on Chinese history and a leading innovator in its telling, Cho-yun Hsu constructs an original portrait of Chinese culture that resonates with all disciplines. Unlike most historians, Hsu resists centering his narrative on China's political evolution, focusing instead on the country's cultural sphere and its encounters with successive waves of globalization. Beginning long before China's written history and extending through the twentieth century, Hsu follows the content and expansion of Chinese culture, describing the daily lives of commoners, the nature of their spiritual beliefs and practices, the changing character of their social and popular thinking, and their advances in material culture and technology. Rather than merely listing the achievements of emperors, generals, ministers, and sages, Hsu adds depth through detailed accounts of these events and their everyday implications. Dynastic change, the rise and fall of national ambitions, and the growth and decline of institutional systems take on new significance through Hsu's careful research, which uniquely captures the multiple strands that gave rise to China's pluralistic society. Paying particular attention to influential relationships occurring outside of Chinese cultural boundaries, Hsu persuasively demonstrates the impact of foreign influences on Chinese culture and identity, and even identifies similarities between China's cultural developments and those of other nations.

List of Figures
Notes on the Translation
Author's Preface
1. Prehistory: China's Earliest Cultures According to Regional Archaeology
2. The Emergence of Chinese Civilization: The Sixteenth Through Third Centuries B.C.E.
3. China Comes Into Its Own: The Third Century B.C.E. to the Second Century C.E.
4. China in East Asia: The Second to Tenth Centuries C.E.
5. China in an Asian Multistate System: The Tenth to Fifteenth Centuries C.E.
6. China Enters the World System
7. China Enters the World System
8. A Century of Uncertainty: 1850 to 1950
04_hsu15920_00_toc.doc: v

Hsu's book is unique in the field, and makes a distinct contribution above the many other grand narratives of Chinese history. Impeccably researched and consistently insightful, this is precisely the sort of book that every serious scholar of China should keep within arm's reach.
Cho-yun Hsu is University Professor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh. His research and teaching specializations include ancient Chinese civilizations and comparative civilizations. He earned his B.A. and M.A. from National Taiwan University and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has authored or coauthored a number of books, including Seek the Way, Business and Professional Ethics, Exploring Interpretation in Chinese History, and Western Chou Civilization. Timothy Danforth Baker Jr. is assistant professor of history at the National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan, ROC. He earned his M.A. from National Taiwan University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University and specializes in historical geography and the metropolitan communities of the Han and Tang dynasties. Michael S. Duke is professor emeritus of Chinese and comparative literature at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Blooming and Contending: Chinese Literature in the Post Mao Era and The Iron House: A Memoir of the Chinese Democracy Movement and the Tiananmen Massacre and editor and cotranslator of Worlds of Modern Chinese Fiction: Short Stories and Novellas from the People’s Republic, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.