|Jonathan Dermot Spence|
August 11, 1936 |
|Alma mater||Cambridge, Yale|
|Doctoral advisor||Mary C. Wright
Fang Chao-ying (房兆楹)
|Doctoral students||Tonio Andrade, Peter Carroll, James Carter, Janet Chen, Sherman Cochran, Pamela Crossley, Roger DesForges, Ryan Dunch, C. Patterson Giersch, Madeline Y. Hsu, Robert A. Kapp, Norman Kutcher, Susan Naquin, Robert Oxnam, Stephen R. Platt, Kenneth Pomeranz, Johanna Ransmeier, Ruth Rogaski, Roger R. Thompson, Joanna Waley-Cohen, Yi-Li Wu|
Jonathan D. Spence (Chinese name: simplified Chinese: 史景迁; traditional Chinese: 史景遷; pinyin: Shǐ Jǐngqiān, born August 11, 1936) is a British-born historian and public intellectual specializing in Chinese history. He was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University from 1993 to 2008. His most widely read book is The Search for Modern China, a survey of the last several hundred years of Chinese history based on his popular course at Yale. A prolific author, reviewer, and essayist, he has published more than a dozen books on China. He retired from Yale in 2008.
Spence's major interest is modern China, especially the Qing Dynasty, and relations between China and the West. Spence frequently uses biographies to examine cultural and political history. Another common theme is the efforts of both Westerners and Chinese "to change China," and how such efforts were frustrated.
Spence was educated at Winchester College, an English independent school for boys, and at Clare College at the University of Cambridge. He received his B.A. in history from Cambridge in 1959. He went to Yale on a Clare-Mellon Fellowship to study the history and culture of China, receiving an M.A. and then a Ph.D. in 1965, when he won the John Addison Porter Prize. As part of his graduate training, he spent a year in Australia to study under Fang Chao-ying and Tu Lien-che, pre-eminent scholars of the Qing dynasty.
Widely recognized as a leading scholar of Chinese history, Spence was president of the American Historical Association for the 2004-2005 term. While his primary focus has been on Qing dynasty China, he has also written a biography of Mao Zedong and Gate of Heavenly Peace, a study of twentieth-century intellectuals and their relation to revolution. Spence taught a popular undergraduate class at Yale on the history of modern China, which formed the basis for his text The Search for Modern China, whose dedication is "For My Students."
His name in Chinese was chosen to reflect his love of history and admiration for the historian Sima Qian. His name in Chinese is 史景遷/Shǐ Jǐngqiān. He chose the family name 史/Shǐ (literally "history") and personal name 景遷/Jǐngqiān where 景/Jǐng means admire (景仰) and 遷/Qiān was taken from the personal name of Sima Qian (司馬遷).
Spence has received eight honorary degrees in the United States as well as from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and (in 2003) from Oxford University. He was invited to become a visiting professor at Peking University and an honorary professor at Nanjing University. He was named Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, and, in 2006, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge.
He received the William C. DeVane Medal of the Yale Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (1952); a Guggenheim Fellowship (1979); the Los Angeles Times History Prize (1982), and the Vursel Prize of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1983). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1985), named a MacArthur Fellow (1988), appointed to the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress (1988), elected a member of the American Philosophical Society (1993), and named a corresponding fellow of the British Academy (1997).
Born in Surrey, England, Spence became an American citizen in 2000. He lives in West Haven with his wife, Annping Chin (a senior lecturer in history at Yale who got her PhD in classical Chinese philosophy at Columbia). He has two sons from a previous marriage (1962–1993) to Helen Alexander, Colin and Ian Spence, and two stepchildren, Yar Woo and Mei Chin.
- The Search for Modern China (1990; 2nd edition, 1999; 3rd edition 2013)
- Tsʻao Yin and the Kʻang-hsi Emperor; bondservant and master (1966)
- To Change China: Western Advisers in China, 1620-1960 (Boston, Little Brown, 1969).
- Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'ang-Hsi (1974)
- The Death of Woman Wang (1978)
- The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (1984)
- The Question of Hu (New York: Knopf, 1987 ISBN 0394571908). Biography of John Hu 胡若望, 18th-century Chinese who came to France.
- Chinese Roundabout: Essays on History and Culture
- The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution 1895-1980
- The Chan's Great Continent: China in Western Minds
- God's Chinese Son (New York: Norton, 1996 ISBN 0393038440). Biography of Hong Xiuchuan, leader of Taiping Rebellion.
- Mao Zedong. Penguin Lives. New York: Viking Press. 1999. ISBN 9780670886692. OCLC 41641238. Lay summary (February 6, 2000).
- Return to Dragon Mountain: Memories of a Late Ming Man (2007) Viking, 332 pages. ISBN 978-0-670-06357-4
- Treason by the Book
- "The Dream of Catholic China" The New York Review of Books 54/11 (28 June 2007) : 22-24 [reviews Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: the Jesuit Mission to China, 1579-1724]
- David Skinner, "Jonathan Spence Biography", National Endowment for the Humanities (accessed January 9, 2013).
- Jonathan D. Spence, Ts'ao Yin and the K'ang-Hsi Emperor: Bondservant and Master(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), p. xv. 
- "CEAS | Events". Eastasianstudies.research.yale.edu. Retrieved 2013-02-15.
- Roberts, Priscilla "Spence, Jonathan D." pages 1136-1137 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing edited by Kelly Boyd, Volume 2, London:Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999 page 1136.
- Jonathan D. Spence To Change China; Western Advisers in China, 1620-1960. Boston: Little Brown, 1969
- Frederic E. Wakeman Jr., Jonathan D. Spence at American Historical Association website (retrieved March 10, 2010).
- Spence, Johnathan D. (1998). 天安门：知识分子与中国革命. Beijing: 中央编译出版社. p. 1.
- Jill Laster, "Eminent China Scholar Will Deliver 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities", Chronicle of Higher Education, March 8, 2010.
- Tsʻao Yin and the Kʻang-hsi Emperor: Bondservant and Master - Jonathan D. Spence - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-02-15.
- Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'ang-Hsi - Jonathan D. Spence - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2013-02-15.
- Mazlish, Bruce. "The Question of Hu" pages 143-152 from History and Theory, Volume 31, 1992.
- Mirsky, Jonathan. Review of Chinese Roundabout pages 51–53 from The New York Review of Books, Volume 39, Issue #17, November 5, 1992.
- Nathan, Andrew J. "A Culture of Cruelty: Review of The Search for Modern China" pages 30–34 from The New Republic, Volume 203, July 30, 1990.
- Roberts, Priscilla. "Spence, Jonathan D." pages 1136-1137 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing edited by Kelly Boyd, Volume 2, London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999 ISBN 1-884964-33-8.
- WorldCat Authority Page, Jonathan D. Spence
- Reith Lectures: Chinese Vistas
- The Search for Modern China Continues
- 2008 Reith Lectures
- Spence archive from The New York Review of Books
- Jonathan Spence, Cliffhanger Days: A Chinese Family in the Seventeenth Century, AHA Presidential Address Retrieved 18 April 2010
- profile at the New York State Writers Institute