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Peking University

Chinese Scholarship and Intellectuals, 1898-1937

Xiaoqing Diana Lin

Publication Year: 2005

Peking University, founded in 1898, was at the center of the major intellectual movements of twentieth-century China. In this institutional and intellectual history, author Xiaoqing Diana Lin shows how the university reflected and shaped Chinese intellectual culture in an era of great change, one that saw both a surge of nationalism and an interest in Western concepts such as democracy, science, and Marxism. Lin discusses Peking University’s spirit of openness and how the school both encouraged the synthesis of Chinese and Western knowledge and promoted Western learning for the national good. The work covers the introduction of modern academic disciplines, the shift from integrative learning to specialized learning, and the reinterpretation of Confucianism for contemporary times.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xi

Growing up in Beijing, China, I was always intrigued by the post-1952 campus of Peking University: its beautiful and serene scenery, built with a synthesis of traditional Chinese and modern Western architectural styles, its association with history, and its pride that went beyond the Communist era—the English letterhead of campus stationary has defiantly...

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pp. 1-4

Peking University, founded in 1898 as the Imperial Peking University, was China’s first modern state university and was at the center of the country’s major intellectual movements in the twentieth century: the introduction of Western learning, a revived interest in Buddhism, and a reinterpretation of Confucian and other branches of Chinese learning...

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1. From Gewu zhizhi to Building a New Moral Universe? The Development of the Imperial Peking University Curriculum

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pp. 5-24

Modern Chinese education developed out of contact with Western learning. The decision to learn from the West stemmed first from Chinese defeats in battles with Western countries and Japan in the latter part of the nineteenth century. From that very practical decision to make weapons and ships comparable to those in the West...

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2. From Imperial to Civil Service Examinations: Changes in the Relationship Between the State and the Imperial Peking University (1898–1911)

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pp. 25-40

The specialized curriculum of Peking University and corresponding changes in the state bureaucratic structure, including a greater emphasis on professional expertise along Western lines, helped shape the modern university and alter the relationship between the state and the imperial university...

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3. From a Defense of Confucian Moral Knowledge to New Construction of Chinese Culture: Academic Developments at Peking University (1912–1937)

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pp. 41-64

The dissociation between the state bureaucracy and Peking University that started in the first ten years of the twentieth century became more prominent at the establishment of the republic in 1912. The republican goals accorded more with Western social and political values. There was now an even stronger reliance on Western learning as the selection criteria...

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4. The Transformation of a Discursive Context: From a Paradigm of Chinese vs. Western Learning to One of Science vs. Metaphysics

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pp. 65-88

By 1917, in the discourse regarding knowledge both at Peking University and nationwide, one sees a marked transition from Zhang Zhidong’s dichotomy of integrated Chinese learning and more specialized Western learning to situating Chinese learning in a discourse on materialism versus spirituality and science versus metaphysics. Chinese learning was no longer treated as pertaining only to China but as moral knowledge...

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5. The Uses of the Evolutionary Historical Framework: The History and Chinese Language and Literature Departments (1917–1927)

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pp. 89-118

In early twentieth-century China, a historical approach resembling a post- Enlightenment European definition of historicism was applied to the new fields of archaeology, ancient Oriental linguistics, history, geology, intellectual history, and popular ethnology,1 in addition to the existing fields of study, such as Chinese philology, philosophy, and literature, although many of them were not yet classified as independent disciplines...

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6. Grasping for Permanence in Historical Change

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pp. 119-138

The historical approach taken by many Chinese scholars toward Chinese history paved the way for a new relationship with the past. But the emphasis on change in historicism clashed with a desire for a historical continuity...

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7. Confucian Moral Cultivation, Science,and Social Relevance: The Search for an Organizing Principle for the Disciplines of Education and Psychology (1910s–1930s)

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pp. 139-158

Cai Yuanpei’s university system was premised on a body of pure/theoretical knowledge, which ultimately would aid nationalism and benefit society through the creation of a non-utilitarian culture that avoided the biased political focus on material prosperity and other more tangible results. This university system suffered from a failure to define a meaningful...

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8. Western Legal and Political Theories as Agents of Social Reform: The Development of the Law and Political Science Departments (1920s–1930s)

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pp. 159-178

Like education and psychology, law and politics were two potentially practical and socially oriented fields of learning. Precisely for these reasons, Cai Yuanpei had attempted to separate the field of law from the university in 1917 and was stopped by strong protests from the faculty. Unlike other applied subjects of learning, however, law and politics, because of their historical connection with government office...

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pp. 179-184

On July 7, 1937, clashes outside the city walls of Beijing between Chinese Nationalist troops and the Japanese army marked the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, which would last for the next eight years. The war had a profound impact on the development of Peking University, leading to the university’s merger with Nankai and Qinghua universities and then a long retreat...


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pp. 185-222


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pp. 223-228


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pp. 229-233

E-ISBN-13: 9780791483916
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791463215
Print-ISBN-10: 0791463214

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2005