Joseph R. Levenson

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Joseph Richmond Levenson
Born 1920
Boston, Massachusetts,U.S.
Died (1969-04-06)April 6, 1969
Russian River,California,U.S.
Education Harvard University (1949)
Spouse(s) Rosemary Sebag-Montefiore
Children four

Joseph Richmond Levenson (1920–1969) was a scholar of Chinese history and Jane K. Sather Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley.

After graduating from Boston Latin School in 1937 and Harvard College in 1941, Levenson enlisted in the United States Navy in 1942. He attended Japanese Language School and saw active service in the Solomon Islands and Philippines campaigns. After the war he earned M.A. (1947) and PhD (1949) degrees at Harvard, where he was a student of John K. Fairbank. He was a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1951 until his death. He drowned in a canoeing accident in the Russian River, California, in 1969. [1]

Honors and awards[edit]

Levenson earned a number of awards and prizes, including Fulbright (1954–55), the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1958–59); Guggenheim (1962–63); and the American Council of Learned Societies (1966–67).

In honor of his scholarly and pedagogical contributions, two awards are made in his name: the China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies offers the Joseph Levenson Book Prize[2] and one by Harvard University for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Intellectual achievements[edit]

Paul Cohen commented in his study of American historical writing on China, Discovering History in China, that Levenson addressed "the issues of modernization and cultural change more persistently, imaginatively, and, for many of his readers, persuasively than perhaps any other American historian of China in the immediate postwar decades". [3]


References and further reading[edit]


  • Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and the Mind of Modern China (1953)
  • Confucian China and Its Modern Fate (1958-1965)
  • China: an interpretive history, from the beginnings to the fall of Han (1969)
  • Revolution and Cosmopolitanism: the Western stage and the Chinese stages (1971)

External links[edit]