Academic Information | Historian Mr. Wang Jiafan Died, Author of “General Theory of Chinese History” and “One Hundred Years of Turbulence and One Thousand Years of Reciprocation”

2020-07-08 | By Historian | Filed in: Character.

Wang Jiafan, a famous historian and lifelong professor of East China Normal University, died at Huashan Hospital at 5 o’clock this morning.

Wang JiafanBorn in 1938 in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province. He is a lifelong professor in the History Department of East China Normal University, a researcher at the Simian Institute of Humanities of East China Normal University, and a librarian at the Shanghai Institute of Literature and History. He has long been engaged in the teaching and research of ancient Chinese history, focusing on China’s social and economic history, focusing on the Ming and Qing Dynasties and the Jiangnan region, and has also made many explorations in historical epistemology and methodology. Author of “General Theory of Chinese History”, “A Hundred Years of Turbulence and a Thousand Years of Reciprocation”, “Historians and Historians”, “Wandering Voyage: A Journey to Ming and Qing Dynasties in the Long River of History” and “A Collection of History of Jiangnan in Ming and Qing Dynasties” etc. He won the 14th Shanghai Philosophy and Social Sciences Academic Contribution Award in 2018.

Mr. Wang Jiafan once said, “After more than half a century of travel, my deep feeling is: wandering on the sea of history, wanting to penetrate from the sea surface to the bottom of the sea, realizing the true meaning of history, without perseverance and patience to sink down, without exuberant thirst for knowledge and eternal curiosity, it is likely that I am like a good tourist, leaving only ‘so-and-so to visit here’.”

Mr. Wang Jiafan looked down on his status as an “expert”, “scholar” and “academic leader”. He felt that he was a “teacher”. As long as he stands on the platform, he feels like a duck to water. In 1978, Wang Jiafan began to officially teach “General History of China”. He never follows the syllabus, picking out typical characters and examples to carry out in detail at each time period, and then drawing out a line. This kind of lecture seems simple, but in fact it requires great efforts in historical materials. In addition to learning in class, Wang Jiafan also places great emphasis on the experience of historical situations. Since 1979, he has taken the students to various towns in the south of the Yangtze River for on-the-spot investigation, entering villages, soaking in teahouses, chatting with the peasants and the common people to see how the local people live. “Text materials often have no emotional situation, situation is very important. When you go to that place, it is this environment, and this feeling is very subtle. Talking with the common people gives you a primitive feeling, and looking at historical materials gives you a new feeling and interpretation.”

“General Theory of Chinese History” is a classic work by Mr. Wang Jiafan. It is written on the basis of his lecture notes on the course “General History of China”. The scope of discussion covers all Chinese history up to today. It not only outlines and explains the whole, but also includes special attention to the “China Complex” that has transformed from “traditional” to “modern” in the past 100 years. Wang Jiafan made a personalized interpretation of major issues in history from the perspective of penetration and overall interpretation, thus revealing the internal context of China’s historical changes and presenting his understanding of “China’s General History”.

“General Theory of Chinese History” is praised as “the contemporary” Theory of Reading General Mirror “. This book is not only Wang Jiafan’s lecture experience for many years, but also his practice and understanding of 40 years of historical research. Wang Jiafan stressed that history is a science about time. He once said: “If philosophy makes people smart and literature arouses people’s passion, then history teaches people cold. The sense of history is a sense of great time. With this macro view of time, one can look at the ups and downs of the past 100 years with magnanimity.”


Comprehensive from: Biography of Librarians of Shanghai Literature and History Research Museum, Public Number of Exploration and Contention Magazine, Surging, etc.

Editors: Tong Weijing and Zhou Minxian

This article is reprinted from Wen Wei Po


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