Interviews with Professors’ Classification and Historians in 1950s

2020-06-24 | By Historian | Filed in: Culture.

Abstract:The classification of professors in 1956 was an important event in the history of education and learning since the founding of New China. From the national level, it is the product of the central government’s adjustment of policies towards senior intellectuals. For the professor group, it is an important identification related to its “birthright” and “status”. Judging from the situation of the history discipline, a large number of famous historians have joined the ranks of the top three professors, which embodies the overall development of the discipline. In particular, those shortlisted for the “first-class professors” have gathered together the academic leaders at that time and are truly worthy of the name. Although in the actual evaluation process, Due to improper operation, In addition to the influence of various non-academic factors, It has caused a lot of contradictions and disputes, but its historical influence cannot be ignored. It has not only set up a model for scholars, interpreted the highest yardstick of academic evaluation, but also laid the direction and keynote of professional title evaluation in the future. The word “grade” has since become an unavoidable and important standard for the ranking of political and economic life of all walks of life in China except farmers. However, the pros and cons of the professor classification system and where to go are still hot topics in academic circles and even in the whole society.

Key words:Professor classification, first-class professor, second-class and third-class professor title evaluation, historian

As an important part of contemporary intellectual research, the issue of professor classification has been paid close attention to by academic circles. However, judging from the current research situation, there are few achievements that take a certain discipline as a specific starting point. (1) This article intends to sort out the implementation background, process and influence of the professor classification system in the 1950s from the perspective of history professors. While observing the academic feelings and values of scholars in that era, it also reflects on the close and subtle relationship between the changes of the times, policy changes and academic evolution, and the honor and disgrace of scholars.

First, the Coming of “Early Spring for Intellectuals”

The classification system of professors came into being as early as the Republic of China. In 1917, the Beiyang government issued the “Order to Amend Universities” which clearly stipulated that universities should have three levels: full professors, professors and assistant professors, and lecturers should be employed when necessary. Among them, lecturers have a special status and are not included in the grade of university faculty. This regulation was mainly aimed at the established practice at that time that “whoever is a professor in one school is called a lecturer if he is a part-time teacher in another school”. Their salaries, regardless of grade, are paid on a hourly basis, ranging from $2 to $5 per hour. The other four levels are subdivided into six grades (the professor level is divided into undergraduate professors and preparatory professors).

During the period of Nanjing National Government, more detailed regulations were made on the professional title grade and employment conditions of university teachers. The “Regulations on the Qualification of University Teachers” promulgated in 1927 and the “Organic Law” promulgated in July 1929 both explicitly stipulated that the grade of university teachers was divided into four levels: professors, associate professors, lecturers and teaching assistants. The latter, in the form of legislation, marked the basic formation of the teacher recruitment system in modern Chinese national universities. As an important measure to measure and define the level of scholars, this form of grading and the method of grading the salaries of teachers of the same level have been used up to now. As for the salary difference at all levels, it has become more detailed.

The implementation of the professor classification system in the 1950s has obvious historical origins, which can be regarded as the continuation and development of the university employment system during the Republic of China, and at the same time has its special background and historical characteristics. The proposal of the goal of socialist construction objectively requires attention to and training of professionals in various fields, thus promoting the adjustment of the country’s policies on intellectuals. From 14 to 20 January 1956, The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held a meeting on intellectuals in Huairentang, Zhongnanhai. Zhou Enlai clearly put forward the policy of “mobilizing and exerting the power of intellectuals to the fullest extent” in his “Report on Intellectuals”, It is emphasized that they should give full play to their expertise, give them full understanding, trust and support, actively improve their working conditions, living conditions and political treatment, especially improve the professional title promotion system, solve the current common problems of many grades but small equidistant and low grades of college graduates, and formulate reasonable and stable promotion methods and standards. (2) Mao Zedong concluded at the closing meeting: “We are now changing the life of what, the life of technology, and the life of ignorance and ignorance. Therefore, it is called the technological revolution and the cultural revolution. We cannot carry out the technological revolution without scientific and technological personnel, and we cannot rely solely on us. …… To train a large number of intellectuals, we must catch up with and surpass the world level in science and technology in a planned way, first approaching and then surpassing, so as to build China better. “(3) The implementation of the university professor rating policy and wage reform system is gradually beginning under this background.

In March 1956, a national wage conference directly related to attaching importance to and improving the treatment of intellectuals was held in Beijing. In June, the State Council successively issued the “Decision on Wage Reform”, “Provisions on Several Issues in Wage Reform” and “Regulations on Implementation Procedures of Wage ReformNotification“And other documents, with special emphasis on overcoming the erroneous tendency of paying attention only to administrative personnel but ignoring experts and scholars, and greatly increasing the salaries of senior technical personnel and senior scientific researchers. According to the survey, the overall living conditions of senior intellectuals in the country at that time were: “Most of them had enough food and clothing, but they were not well off, and a small number felt that life was difficult. According to a recent survey by the Department of Economics of Tianjin Nankai University, nearly two-thirds of the 49 teachers above the department’s lecturers have enough food, clothing and petty cash, but cannot purchase important items. One third felt difficult in life. Only 5% are well off (mostly those with light family burden). According to a 1954 survey conducted by the Academy of Sciences of 155 senior researchers in Beijing, about 36% of them have difficulties in living. This year, the situation has changed slightly due to the adoption of some temporary relief measures, but the basic situation is similar to that of Nankai University. ” (4) “The basic salary of the vast majority of scholars and experts who are responsible for the main tasks of science, technology, education, health and culture is around 200 yuan.” (5) Take history as an example. Guo Moruo (then president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) is an administrative secondary, with a salary of 500 yuan.Fan Wenlan(At that time, the director of the three historical research institutes) was an administrative level 6, with a salary of 300 yuan. Gu Jiegang is a first-class researcher with a salary of 228 yuan.Luo Ergang, Xia Nai, Pei Wenzhong are second-class researchers, salary 200 yuan; Chen Yinque and Chen Yuan are second-class professors with a salary of 253 yuan (first-class professors are vacant); Tang Yongtong is a third-class professor with a salary of 235 yuan. Jian Bozan is a fourth-level professor with a salary of 218.8 yuan. Xiang Da is a five-level professor with a salary of 200.2 yuan. Feng Youlan, Ji Xianlin and Liu Wendian are professors of Grade 6 with a salary of 184.8 yuan. Compared with other disciplines, especially science and engineering scholars, the treatment is obviously low. For example, Liu Xianzhi, a mechanics expert from Shandong Institute of Technology, is a super professor with a salary of 350 yuan. ⑥ The tendency of emphasizing reason over literature is obvious, and there are many non-academic factors. Generally speaking, the treatment of the principal leaders in universities is obviously higher than that of ordinary professors and scholars. In response, Mr. Feng Youlan pointed out: “In terms of treatment, the principal leaders in universities seem to be a little different from them. The salary scale clearly stipulates that teachers’ salaries can only reach the fourth level. The first, second and third levels are specially set up for the principal responsible persons. Although there are some super professors, in fact no one has enjoyed this kind of treatment. “⑦ The salary reform implemented later broke the distribution pattern to a certain extent. Through the implementation of the method of grading teaching staff and administrative staff, quite a number of non-administrative professors began to enter the ranks of the first, second and third levels.

The picture shows Mao Zedong and Fei Xiaotong (first from the left) and others together in 1956.

At that time, the life of ordinary university teachers was generally poor, and many people even had no money to buy books. Mr. Feng Youlan once said with deep feelings: “Generally speaking, the life of university professors now is much better than before liberation. However, if he does not have past savings or subsidies for payment, and his family is a little more, his life is still very tight. Some people still have to do some household chores, which of course takes up his energy and time. Many people have no money to buy books, but most teachers like to buy books. You can read your own books at any time, or you can comment on them at will. Buying books is a kind of happiness for readers, but now there are many teachers who cannot have this kind of happiness. ⑧ In July 1956, the Ministry of Higher Education issued a report on evaluating and adjusting the salary standard of university teachers.NotificationOne of the important purposes is to focus on solving the problem of low treatment of intellectuals.

Compared with the Ministry of Higher Education issued in October 1955, the “On the Implementation of the Wage System for All Staff in Colleges and Universities and the Change to Monetary Wage System”Notification“The salary standard specified in (140.3 yuan-217.8 yuan for professors and associate professors; Lecturer 100.1 yuan-117.7 yuan; Assistant teaching staff 45.1-60.0 yuan), the adjustment is quite obvious, some people vividly describe it as “the early spring of intellectuals”. Pet-name Ruby

Second, the Non-Waves and Scholar Groups in the Grading Process

In view of the classification of university professors’ salary grades, the Ministry of Higher Education has successively issued several documents, which are finally divided into six grades, with the highest being super grade and the lowest being six grades. The so-called “super” professors, It refers to those who have made outstanding achievements and contributions in teaching and scientific research, reached or approached the world’s advanced scientific level, and can guide major scientific research work. Or “old teachers who have reached or approached the world level in scientific level, have made outstanding contributions to the training of scientific and technological cadres and teaching cadres, or have made outstanding contributions to China’s economic construction, and have extremely high prestige in the national education sector”. The so-called “first-class” professors, It refers to “having a relatively high scientific level, having remarkable achievements and contributions in teaching and scientific research, being able to guide scientific research and serving as an academic tutor for doctoral students in science”. Or “an old professor who has worked hard in higher education and scientific research for many years, has rich scientific knowledge and teaching experience, has made remarkable achievements in training scientific, technological and teaching cadres, and has a national reputation”. ⑩ However, in the final actual implementation process, it is only divided into four levels.

Judging from the evaluation standards issued at that time, there were no very specific quantitative rules, which were mainly based on teachers’ morality, qualifications and prestige. The specific method is that the central competent departments such as the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with local Party committees and universities in various provinces, will draw up a list of salary grades. For example, Professor Chen Tongxie of the History Department of Shandong University, As one of the founders and founders of the discipline of ancient world history in China, As early as the Republic of China, he was employed as a professor by Nankai, Xiamen University, Peking University and other famous universities. Famous in academic circles, Qi Sihe, Fu Yiling, Wang Shumin, Quan Hansheng, He Ziquan, Yang Xiangkui, Deng Guangming, Sun Sibai, Zhang Zhengzhuo and other famous historians all received their studies from him. However, because of “stating but not writing”, Not much has been achieved, Results There was no small resistance in the process of professors’ grading, Some people thought that he could not reach the third-level level and even criticized him a lot. Finally, the head of the department, Mr. Yang Xiangkui, urged all the people to discuss it and insisted: “Mr. Chen was my teacher when I was studying in Peking University more than 20 years ago. He was a professor of Western history at that time. If Mr. Chen was not classified as a third-level professor, then I, Yang, would definitely not be rated as a third-level professor.” (11) In the end, Chen Lao was classified as Grade III. It can be seen that the prestige, status and seniority of the academic circle occupied a considerable and even a major proportion in the process of professor classification at that time.

It should be pointed out that in the evaluation of first-class professors, from the Ministry of Education to the school level, they are very strict and cautious. Only leading scholars with excellent talents, learning, knowledge and morality in various disciplines and outstanding qualifications and prestige are eligible to be shortlisted. According to Mr. Ji Xianlin’s memory: “In 1956, there was another national activity to assess the salaries of professors… This activity took a long time, and the work was very meticulous and careful. A leading comrade of the Personnel Department asked me for my advice several times: Wu Zuxiang, a professor of Chinese literature, is a famous novelist in the country, an expert on the study of a Dream of Red Mansions, a member of the Secretariat of the Chinese Writers Association, and my old classmates and friends. He asked me if Wu could be rated as a first-class professor. Of course I think it is very qualified. However, on balance, it is still classified as Level 2, which shows the difficulty of the matter. As far as I know, some provinces have only one first-class professor in the whole province, while others do not even have one. It is really a first-class difficulty. “(12)

It is for this reason that many people who have witnessed it, especially the masters of Chinese studies and historians who are among the first-class professors, feel a lot of emotion in the face of the huge reputation that has come on their faces. They all think it is hard-won and regard it as the highest honor in their life and career. After all, it represents “the yardstick with the highest academic status”. (13) Mr. Zhou Gucheng said with great feelings in his autobiography: “The first-class professor in the history department is amazing. It’s really not easy to get. I don’t know how to get a first-class professor. Now it is very popular everywhere.” (14) Mr. Ji Xianlin was also surprised by the sudden high praise from the academic circle, believing that it was mainly due to the protection and support of senior scholars: “I am really scared that I was rated as a first-class boy. Later, I heard that several professors who often eat in a restaurant, out of goodwill and between understandable and incomprehensible psychology, gave me a nickname behind them, called “Class I”. As soon as I entered the canteen, someone whispered and smiled: ‘the first level is coming!’ I don’t blame these colleagues. Compared with them, I am inferior in age or academic attainments. It is right to have a nickname. Is this due to my good luck? Maybe so, but I know that there is a person behind it. This person is none other than Mr. Xi Yu (Tang Yongtong). As the saying goes, ‘blessings are not the same’. However, in 1956, I was actually “lucky and true”. In addition to the “first class”, I was also selected as a member of the Philosophy and Social Sciences Department of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This is the supreme title of a scholar in China. Judging from the small number of scholars, it is much more difficult than the feudal ‘to be no.1’. In addition to fame, there are also quite generous subsidies, which can really be described as “fame and fortune”. As to whether anyone will give me the nickname what again, I don’t know. If so, I will laugh it off. In short, when I was just over 40 years old and a few years old, I could only be regarded as an old young man, and the highest honor and interests that a Chinese scholar could count on were firmly in my hands. I am a rather self-aware person. I know that the reason why I can do this step is inseparable from Mr. Xi Yu’s silent support. When it comes to my own efforts, I cannot say that I have not at all, but that is a secondary matter. As for the opportunity, it cannot be said that there is no chance at all, but it is even more secondary and trivial. “(15)

However, due to the relatively vague assessment criteria and large personnel factors, there are also some problems and contradictions in the actual grading process, and even some well-known professors are dissatisfied with the low grade. The reason why they care so much about the level of professional titles is not mainly about the salary, but more about the academic public opinion they represent, which is a natural expression of pursuing academic dignity. Compared with similar schools, Fudan University is especially strict in the classification of professors, especially in the qualification of first-class professors. Although there are so many famous teachers in the university, there are only seven first-class professors, Chen Wangdao, Zhou Gucheng, Guo Shaoyu, Su Buqing, Chen Jiangong, Zhou Tongqing and Lu Hefu, causing many people to complain. Professor Sun Dayu of the Department of Foreign Languages was very angry because he was classified as Grade II. In response to this matter, some researchers commented: “Mr. Sun has always been quite conceited academically. He once claimed that in China, no one can match him except Qian Shu in English and English literature. However, this time Fudan University designated him as a second-class professor, which made him feel greatly insulted and it was inevitable that he would get angry. But in fact, this is not because Fudan leaders want to suppress him in particular, but because Fudan has always refused to flatter its teachers, and this time it has generally pressed its professors very low. At that time, Fudan Foreign Languages Department did not have a first-class professor at all. There were only two second-class professors: Sun Dayu and Lin Tongji, Wu Lifu was a third-class professor, and the head of the department, Yang Qishen, was a fourth-class professor. Qi Shuhan was first set between the third-class and fourth-class professors, so he nicknamed himself “No Three No Four” and was later set as the third-class professor. However, only Guo Shaoyu is a first-class professor in the Chinese Department (Chen Wangdao is the principal and is no longer in the Chinese Department). Liu Dajie and Wu Wenqi are two second-class professors. Zhu Dongrun and Zhao Jingshen are three professors. This rating has caused great contradictions among professors, and Sun Dayu is just a person who dares to shoot. The reason why Sun Dayu is so is not just because of the salary problem. I’m afraid it is mainly because he thinks that his level is despised by others and his status is no longer valued. It shows more arrogance inherent in intellectuals. ” (16) Mr. Zhu Dongrun of the Chinese Department said wryly after learning that he had been rated as Grade III: “He has never been arrogant, but he does not feel shorter than others in front of anyone at a higher level.” (17) This also reflects to some extent the complexity of the problem of professor grading.

Equally complicated is that some other scholars declined or refused the recommendation of the school for various reasons and voluntarily applied for a lower grade. For example, Mr. Lu Qingjun, a professor at Harbin Institute of Engineering and a famous mathematician, applied to be demoted to Grade II on the grounds that his teacher Su Buqing was a Grade I professor to show his respect for his teacher. A generation of famous teachers, Mr. Wu Mi, who was then a professor at Southwest Normal University, was even more frightened by the school’s decision to make him a first-class professor, insisting that it was an honor to be a third-class professor and did not dare to expect too much. He wrote in his diary: “The original salary of 176.8 yuan for the seventh grade is now proposed to be increased to 225 yuan for the new third grade, which is too much to be worthy of……. Mi’s recent scientific research has not achieved any results. He thinks that the history department is planned to be the piano of the new fourth grade 180 yuan, and Liang Liangjun, which is really behind him. How dare the salary scale be above it? Therefore, it is appropriate to set the salary scale for the new fourth grade 180 yuan.” (18) After that, the school was determined to promote him to a second-class professor. Wu also insisted that “it is extremely satisfactory to list the new third-class professor. I hope that Mi will not be mentioned to the new second-class professor, which will lead to disharmony among colleagues and Mi will not be at ease.” (19) He has repeatedly asked friends to represent Chen Jiyi to relevant leaders. This is also a unique style and temperament of intellectuals in that era.

Three, shortlisted “top three” history professor

Judging from the classification of history disciplines, those shortlisted for the “top three” level, as far as the first and second-level professors are concerned, are far higher in level and status than the top three Jinshi in the imperial examination era, which can be said to be a gathering of famous artists and elites in the domestic history circle at that time. The distribution of some scholars’ native places, affiliated institutions, professional fields and representative works are listed as follows:

This table is mainly based on the salary list of first, second and third-level professors in colleges and universities nationwide issued by the Ministry of Higher Education in September 1956, supplemented by the school history of some colleges and universities such as Peking University, Shandong University and East China Normal University.ArchivesMaterials are added and drawn. (20) Since the official preliminary draft does not include all institutions of higher learning, such as East China Normal University, which has a strong faculty in history and a first-class professor (Mr. Lv Simian), does not appear on the list. However, the classification of professors in the universities listed in the list is not detailed enough. The first and second professors are the main ones, while the third professors are rarely involved. For example, Shandong University, which is good at “literature and history”, only counted three history professors, Yang Xiangkui, Tong Shuye and Zhang Weihua. In fact, there were eight well-known professors in the school’s famous academic circle at that time (discussed in detail below). Moreover, the final evaluation results have changed greatly from the official draft. For example, Zhou Gucheng and Zhu Qian were initially classified as Grade II and later both were upgraded to Grade I. The children’s book industry was initially designated as Grade II, then downgraded to Grade III, etc. In this regard, the author collects relevantArchivesThe school history materials have been supplemented and corrected to some extent. However, due to limited conditions, some schoolsArchivesBefore checking them all, The classification of many famous historians needs to be further sorted out. For example, Deng Zhicheng (from Jiangning, Jiangsu) and Shang Hongkui (from Qingyuan, Hebei) of Peking University, Wu Yujin of Wuhan University (from Xiuning, Anhui), Miao Fenglin (from Fuyang, Zhejiang) and Wang Shengzu (from Gaoyou, Jiangsu) of Nanjing University, Lu Maode of Beijing Normal University (from Licheng, Shandong), Liu Jie of Sun Yat-sen University (from Wenzhou, Zhejiang), Hu Houxuan (from Wangdu, Hebei) and Wang Zaoshi (from Anfu, Jiangxi) of Fudan University, Shi Nianhai (from Pinglu, Shanxi) of Xi’an Normal University (one of the predecessors of Shaanxi Normal University), Chai Degeng of Jiangsu Normal University (from Zhuji, Zhejiang), Weng Dujian of the Central Institute for Nationalities (from Fuqing, Fujian), Zhang Menglun of Lanzhou University (from Jiangxi Province for 10,000 years), Chen Zhi (from Zhenjiang, Jiangsu) and Ma Changshou (from Xiyang, Shanxi) of Northwest University, Jin Jingfang (from Yixian, Liaoning) of Northeast Renmin University (predecessor of Jilin University), Ji Wenfu (from Jixian, Henan) of Henan Normal University, Zhao Jibin (from Neihuang, Henan) of Kaifeng Normal University, etc. According to their academic qualifications and academic status, they should be among the second and third-level professors. However, through this table, we can basically clearly see the main lineup of the history circle at that time.

Generally speaking, judging from the geographical distribution of the schools where the scholars are located, they are mainly concentrated in Peking University, Beijing Normal University, Fudan University, Nanjing University, Nankai University, Shandong University, East China Normal University and other universities that have a long tradition of literature and history and are still in a leading position in the development of national history disciplines. Judging from the distribution of scholars’ native places, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, Qilu, Huizhou and Zhongzhou regions, which have profound traditional culture accumulation and solid academic atmosphere, are the majority. From the perspective of scholars’ professional fields, they cover ancient Chinese history, modern Chinese history, world history,Historiography theoryHistory of Historiography, Chinese AcademicHistory of thoughtHistory of Chinese Confucian Classics, History of Chinese Philosophy,History of Sino-Foreign Relations, historical philology, bibliography, falsification, historical geography, paleography, archaeology and many other research directions. In particular, it should be pointed out that many of them, especially those who are among the first-class professors, are good at both literature and history, learn from the present and the past, and dabble in a wide range of fields. This is also an important feature of scholars’ research in that era. The academic tradition and cultural purport of ancient Chinese historians seeking “understanding” and “understanding Confucianism” are still influential at this point.

In addition, it should be pointed out that due to Guo Moruo,Fan WenlanHou Wailu, Lv Zhenyu, Du Guoxiang,Liu Danian, Xia Nai, Huang Wenbi, Xie Guozhen,Luo Ergang, Xie Guozhen, Yin Da, Li Yanong, Jin Yufu, Rong Zhaozu, Hu Sheng, Wu Han and other historians, or in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, from research, belong to the title series of researchers; Or is an important party and government official of the country, so it is not included in the classification of university professors. However, most of them are “high-ranking” and are employed as members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Judging from their academic status and influence, they are similar to first-class professors. In fact, first-class professors such as Xiang Da, Chen Yuan, Chen Yinque, Feng Youlan and Ji Xianlin are also members of the faculty.

Judging from the work direction of scholars after classification, the vast majority of people died in their original units, and only a few left their posts or were transferred to other units for some reason. For example, Zhu Qianzhi was transferred to the Institute of World Religions of the Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1964 as a researcher. Zhang Zhengzhuo was transferred from Peking University in 1960 and has served as deputy editor-in-chief of Zhonghua Book Company and researcher of the Institute of History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Yang Xiangkui was transferred to the Institute of History of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1956. He served as a researcher, director of the Academic Committee of the Institute of History, director of the Qin and Han Dynasties History Research Office and the Qing Dynasty History Research Office. Zhao Li was born in 1957 and transferred to Lanzhou University to teach. Feng Jiasheng was transferred to the Institute of Nationalities of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1958 as a researcher. Han Rulin served as vice president of Inner Mongolia University and director of Mongolian History Research Institute for one year in 1965. Nazhong was transferred to the Foreign Affairs College directly under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1958 and participated in the preparation of the Arabic Department and served as the head of the department. In 1962, the Foreign Affairs College merged into Beijing Foreign Languages College and remained the head of the Arabic Department.

Among them, the transfer of Zhang Zhengzhuo from Peking University caused quite a stir in the academic circle. According to the memory of those who witnessed it, “It was in the late 1950s, amid the climax of the” educational revolution “. Overnight, posters were plastered all over the literature and history building of Peking University, directed at the teacher Yuan Feng (Zhang Zhengzhuo), and the main crime was” not learning Marxism-Leninism “. Since then, without any documents, notices or explanations to the teachers and students of the history department, Mr. Yuan Feng has quietly disappeared from Peking University for no apparent reason. ” (21) Regarding the reason for his resignation, another said that the leaders of individual departments who presided over the “education revolution” at that time “expelled” Jian Bozan from Peking University while he was giving lectures in France on the grounds of poor teaching results. (22) It is said that Jian Lao flew into a rage when he heard of the incident: “Do you know what kind of expert Zhang Zhengzhuo is? He was transferred! Where do I get such experts?” (23)

Judging from the results of the appraisal, The professors shortlisted for the “top three” level, To a large extent, it represents the development level of domestic history at that time. Many of them were well-known professors in the Republic of China. Such as Chen Yuan, Xiang Da, Zhou Gucheng, Lv Simian, Chen Xujing, Zheng Tianting, Zhou Yutong, Lei Haizong, Tan Qixiang, Li Jiannong, Wu Qichang, Chen Zuyuan, Tang Changru, Wang Zhongluo, Chen Tongxie, Zhu Qianzhi, Chen Shoushi, Shu Shiwen, Xu Zhongshu, Qi Sihe, Wang Jingru, Fang Guoyu, Shang Yue, Cai Shangsi, Zhao Guangxian, Chen Gonglu, Meng Wentong, Zhang Weihua, Feng Hanji, As “the most outstanding and influential figure in the field of modern Chinese historiography”, he can be called “the elite among the elites”. (24) It is also a matter of course that the shortlisted professors are among the “top three” professors. Zhou Gucheng, Xu Zhongshu, Yu Shengwu, Bai Shouyi, Wu Ze, Yang Xiangkui, Wang Zhongluo, Deng Guangming, Zhou Yiliang, Zheng Tianting, Han Rulin, Tang Changru, Wu Tingcong, Tan Qixiang, Hou Renzhi and others naturally became the first doctoral supervisors in the 1980s. As for their disciples, while continuing their academic tradition and spirit, they have also continuously expanded their academic banner and gradually become the mainstay of today’s active history.

Taking Shandong University as an example, At that time, the history department was full of talents. Its faculty is worthy of being the leader of the whole school. Chen Tongxie, Yang Xiangkui, Tong Shuye, Huang Yunmei, Zheng Hesheng, Zhang Weihua, Wang Zhongluo, Zhao Lisheng and other eight professors gathered together and kept pace with each other. They had the reputation of “eight horses in the same trough” and became a legend of Shilin widely read by later generations. It was during this period that the long-term pattern of history development in Shandong University was established and formed. It is worth noting that all the eight professors are among the top three professors. Among them, Mr. Yang Xiangkui, as the founder and founder of the history department of Shandong University, was rated as Grade II, while the other seven were all Grade III. Judging from the academic lineup, such a large group of second-and third-level professors was also rare in the whole country at that time, which basically reflected the actual situation and overall level of Shandong historiography. However, compared with many Beijing-owned colleges and universities and colleges and universities in big cities, The grading was too strict and the overall grade was low. In the list of salary grades initially drawn up by the Ministry of Education in September 1956, the children’s book industry was originally Grade II, and Zhang Weihua was Grade II to Grade III, which was later reduced to Grade III for some reason. This obvious regional difference also somewhat reflected the policy orientation and complicated personnel factors in the grading process at that time. What is particularly interesting is that Shandong University, which is good at literature and history, Even Qilu, which has profound and long-standing academic tradition and cultural accumulation, There is not a first-class history professor. Some scholars believe that this is related to the character of Mr. Yang Xiangkui, who was then a banner figure in Shandong history, who sheltered his peers. He did not want to be too high in rank and formed a “grade difference” with teachers like Chen Tongxie. (25) This may also reflect to some extent the relatively consistent and indifferent attitude of the academic circles towards the evaluation of professional titles at that time.

However, these famous historians, especially many leading historians, such as Jian Bozan, Xiang Da, Chen Yinque, Chen Xujing and Liu Wendian, were suppressed, criticized and even persecuted to death in the subsequent “Anti-Rightist” struggle and the “Cultural Revolution”. The contrast between their positions before and after is still greatly touched. The internal relationship between academic development, scholars’ fate and social changes, system evolution and policy evolution reflected behind it is still worth pondering. In response, some scholars concluded in the article with some feelings: “In China, it is not easy to find a teaching post in national and provincial universities. If you are lucky enough to get a teaching post in a university, you will have to go through long-term academic accumulation, teaching experience, and various kinds of inexplicable and unclear disputes between right and wrong, and gradually be assessed as lecturers and associate professors. When the passage of time washes out white hair and his face is full of vicissitudes of life, it is already worth celebrating if he can be promoted to a full professor. However, today’s professors are divided into four classes, and the first class and the first class are rising, which is even more difficult and unusual. If you can become a first-level professor, it is like climbing to the top of an ivory tower, which is admired by all in the academic circle and is well-known throughout the country. In the 1950s, the Ministry of Higher Education once assessed a group of “first-class professors”, which was also the only group of “first-class professors” identified in decades. These people are all senior citizens in the mainland’s intellectual and educational circles. They should have academic knowledge, qualifications, prestige and prestige. They are highly respected, and most of them made their mark in the 1920s and 1930s. It can be said that they are worthy of the name. Most of these people are relatively pure scholars, who were relatively marginal in the intricate political struggles of the last century. After 1949, they passed the test of political movements such as ideological transformation, suppression of counter-revolutionaries, elimination of counter-revolutionaries and anti-Hu Feng, and were able to pass the test without any danger. When they were rated as first-class professors in 1955, they once felt trust, glory and joy. However, in the following anti-rightist movements, some of them tasted the taste of suffering and were defeated one after another in successive political movements. Most of them died tragically in the turmoil of the “Cultural Revolution” and only a few lived to the period of reform and opening up. …… Their ideological tendency, academic background, scholarly approach are different, and can obtain the highest title of “first-class professor” respectively, which shows that they have outstanding status and prominent reputation in their respective fields. However, in the continuous political movements that followed, they quickly fell from their position as “academic leaders” and were overthrown and charged with “rightists”, “reactionary academic authorities”, “feudal remnants”, “counter-revolutionary revisionists”, “spies” and so on, suffering unexpected humiliation and suffering. The world is fickle and cold, honor and disgrace continue, academic changes and life experiences contain extremely profound historical significance, which is worth thinking twice. “(26)

IV. Impact and Echo

The implementation of the classification system for professors in 1956, especially the evaluation of first-class professors, had an important impact on later generations in terms of academic tradition and educational system. In academic tradition, Chen Yuan, Feng Youlan, Ji Xianlin, Zhou Gucheng, Lv Simian and other famous historians were among the “first-class professors” who symbolized the highest standard in the academic circle at that time. Although it cannot be separated from its profound academic self-restraint and academic attainments, what is more important is its academic spirit, personality charm and integrity demeanor, thus setting a real model of “good history” for later generations of scholars.

Take Mr. Liu Wendian, a famous master of Chinese studies, as an example. As Yunnan University, he is also the only first-class professor in Yunnan Province. His academic achievements and spirit are recognized by people at that time. After the first academic monograph “Huainan Honglie Ji Jie” was published, the academic circle was shocked and was praised as a “national treasure”. Hu Shi called him “the most precise and strict in law” and “readers can distinguish between the length and diligence of their efforts and the strictness and caution of their methods”. (27) The book Zhuangzi Supplement and Correction, which he continued to write, was highly praised by Mr. Chen Yinque: “Mr. Chen’s work can be said to be the most cautious in the world. Although the example of writing books can confirm that it has taken off, if there is no book to follow, it will not be supplemented. Although it can be confirmed that there is something wrong with it, it is not correct to know the cause of the mistake. …… Today, the study of the history of the pre-Qin period is very different from what Mr. Wang did. He is a talented person who released the waves in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, while talking about the simple study of Shang and Zhou ancient times. The publication of Mr. Wang’s book will cover the style of study of the current world and show people the principles. Is it only for those who govern Zhuangzi to read? ” (28) Hu and Chen both mentioned Liu’s “diligence and caution” in their evaluations, which was quite different from many “loose” scholars who were eager for quick success and instant benefits at that time. As the essence of Chinese academic tradition, the perseverance, solid and cautious attitude and method of no sign or disbelief embodied in him can not only “correct the style of study in the current world”, but also establish learning methods for later generations, especially of universal and extensive educational significance.

As for his personal academic methods and ideals, Liu also revealed many of them in his letters to friends. After the book “Huainan Honglie Ji Jie” was completed, he wrote to Hu Shi about the proofreading of the manuscript, saying: “My brother saw Liu Ji and Zhuang Kuiji being scolded too hard by Wang Niansun and his son. He was very scared and afraid to take off a word. Later generations said that I deleted it in error. One more word, later generations said I was a jump; If I make a mistake, later generations will say that I have made a false change. I will not say that the people have made a mistake but that I will not learn. Therefore, I cannot rest assured that I will not be able to proofread myself. In the future, the false name behind me will all depend on today’s proofreading. ” (29) Take “one word is small, sign and ten thousand volumes” as the motto of his whole life. After the fall of Peiping, it moved southward and said in a letter to Mei Yiqi: “It is really determined to sacrifice one’s life to rush to the sea at the age of 18. Hard work and danger are beyond one’s plan. In the past six or seven years, it has also been said that it is hard to prepare for it!…… After getting dark, I am still preparing for the biography of Master Xuan Zang, hoping to return to school to start classes and compete with western and eastern foreign scholars, which means to win honor and exhale for the academic circles of the motherland.” (30) Self-discipline in the spirit of “seeking truth from facts, no sign of disbelief” and inspiring efforts to “win honor and exhale for the motherland’s academic research” can be described as the unanimous aspiration of all the academic people at that time, which is also the place that can most inspire and inspire later generations of scholars. In response, Mr. Li Xueqin commented: “Looking back on the academic history of the 20th century, we can see that many senior scholars have made admired achievements in turbulent and difficult times. Many people not only learn Chinese and Western, but also give consideration to arts and sciences. I don’t know how they have such great energy and perseverance. It can be understood from Mr. Liu Wendian that what they have in common is their concern for the country and the people, and their determination to win honor and exhale for the academic circles of the motherland. “(31)

Mr. Liu Wendian can set an example in terms of national righteousness and patriotic enthusiasm. After the July 7th Incident in 1937, Japan wanted to invite him to take up a pseudo-post in the mountain. Faced with the lure and intimidation of senior Japanese officials and their subordinates, Japan was unmoved, insisting that “the nation is of great importance and cannot be careless. Readers should cherish their feathers” and never saying a word of Japanese to flatter the enemy from beginning to end (Liu studied Chinese and Western and was proficient in Japanese, but in this case, he was ashamed of “making foreign voices”). In 1949, on the eve of the liberation of Kunming, a friend Hu Shi urged him to immigrate to the United States, and to complete an entry visa for his family and contact the specific residence. Liu declined politely on the grounds that “I am Chinese, why do I want to leave my motherland?” (32) In 1958, on the eve of his death, he was instructed to donate all the manuscripts of Fang Wangxi, the ancestor of Tongcheng School of Literature, letters from Qing Dynasty scholars such as Sun Xingyan and Hao Yixing, paintings by Ma Shouzhen and Gu Hengbo, as well as various rare and rare ancient books, rare porcelain and inscriptions, etc., which he had hidden all his life and had never published, to the Anhui Provincial Museum for collection.

Ancient historians have always regarded talent, learning, knowledge and moral integrity as the criteria for measuring “good history” and the goal of sharpening themselves. From the “first-class professor” of history represented by Liu Wendian, we can still clearly see the inheritance and continuation of this important academic tradition, which also shows the academic nature and fairness of the classification of professors in the 1950s.

In terms of education system, the implementation of the classification system for professors in 1956 also laid the direction and keynote for the classification of professional titles in colleges and universities. After the end of the “Cultural Revolution”, especially after the implementation of the reform and opening-up policy, the national leaders learned the lessons of the ten years of turmoil, readjusted the intellectual policy, and improved and enhanced their material treatment and social status. In line with this, the evaluation of teachers’ professional titles, which has been suspended for many years, has also been put on the agenda again. Comrade Deng Xiaoping stressed in a speech in November 1979: “To establish a degree system, academic and technical professional titles should also be established. …… In the school, there should be professors (first-class professors, second-class professors, third-class professors), associate professors, lecturers, teaching assistants such titles. In scientific research units, there should be such titles as researcher (first-class researcher, second-class researcher and third-class researcher), associate researcher, assistant researcher and intern researcher. ” (33) This can be said to be a continuation of the state’s policy of adjusting intellectuals in the mid-1950s. To a large extent, this policy is put forward to solve the practical problems of the increasing number of professors and the great difference in academic level between them. It is necessary to improve the motivation and enterprise of professors, especially young professors. Since entering the 21st century, Peking University, Shandong University, Renmin University of China and other universities directly under the Ministry of Education have successively carried out professor rating work. Compared with the beginning of the founding of New China, the implementation difficulty and problems are more complicated. However, can too fine a “hierarchy” really improve the enthusiasm of intellectuals, thus comprehensively improving the overall level of university professors and restoring the society’s academic trust and expectation? There is still great controversy. However, how to minimize the influence of various non-academic factors and avoid excessive psychological and social pressure on scholars caused by endless assessments and ratings, which will harm their professional concepts and academic self-esteem, is still a hot topic discussed by people from all walks of life.



“Author’s Brief Introduction“Qu Ning (1981-), a native of Zibo, Shandong Province, is a doctor of history and a lecturer in the School of History and Culture of Shandong University. He is mainly engaged in the study of the history of Chinese historiography.

Note: omittedStudies of Modern China, OriginalChina History Review, No.2, 2014

Reprinted from Public Number: On Modern History


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