BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jonathan Spence, British-born historian, public
intellectual and one of America's preeminent China scholars, will
present a free public talk at Buffalo's City Honors School Sept. 21
at 7 p.m.
The lecture will be sponsored by the Alison L. Des Forges
Memorial Fund and the University at Buffalo Confucius Institute,
part of the UB Asian Studies Program. Co-sponsors include the
Buffalo Public Schools, the UB Department of History and the UB Law
School's Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.
Buffalo School Superintendent James A. Williams and UB Professor
and Vice Provost for International Education Stephen C. Dunnett
will be among the honored guests at the lecture.
Spence, who served as Sterling Professor of History at Yale
University from 1993 to 2008, is celebrated for bringing history to
life for thousands of readers of his popular books and for the many
students who attended his university classes and public
Author of the groundbreaking bestseller, "The Search for Modern
China," which remains a standard text on the last several hundred
years of Chinese history, Spence has been the recipient of many
honors in his distinguished career, including a MacArthur
Foundation Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Los Angeles
Times Book Award.
His talk, "Matteo Ricci and His Legacy in China: The Perils of
Success," will examine the impact of Ricci, an early Jesuit envoy
to China, a founding figure of the 17th-18th century Jesuit China
Mission and one of the first Westerners to learn classical
Ricci had an unusual appreciation for Chinese culture and became
prominent at the 17th century Ming court. Upon discovering the
importance of Confucianism to that court, he became the first to
translate the Confucian classics into a western language (Latin)
with assistance from the scholar Xu Guangqi. Ricci continues to be
celebrated by the Chinese for creating a cultural bridge between
China and the West through art, science and letters.
A major exhibition of Ricci's accomplishments opened in Beijing
in early 2010 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death
and is now on display at the Shanghai Museum.
City Honors principal William Kresse said, "City Honors is
thrilled and honored to host Dr. Spence's presentation, as it
complements the work of our international baccalaureate program and
Mandarin Chinese language program.
"Supporting the Alison L. Des Forge Memorial Fund," he added,
"is also something that we are proud to be a part of, as Alison
contributed significant time and support to our school and
Eric Yang, executive director of the UB Confucius Institute,
said, "We are delighted that a major figure like Professor Spence
was willing to come to Buffalo and give the first public lecture
sponsored by the institute.
"We are grateful to City Honors for hosting the event and look
forward to continuing our partnership with Buffalo Public Schools
and expanding it to include other schools in this region."
Spence will be joined in Buffalo by his wife, Annping Chin,
herself a noted author and historian of China.
She will present a free public talk, "Living with the Enemy:
Insights from the Manchurian Diary of Jin Yufu, 1931-1935," at noon
on Sept. 22 in 509 O'Brian Hall, UB North Campus.
Donors of $50 or more to the Alison L. Des Forges Memorial Fund
will be invited to a reception for Spence and Chin at City Honors
School prior to Spence's talk.
The Des Forges fund was established to raise money for a
scholarship in memory of Des Forges, an internationally renowned
human-rights advocate and one of the world's leading experts on
Rwanda, who died in the crash of Continental Airlines flight 3407
in Clarence in 2009.
Her husband Roger, a China scholar and professor of history at
UB, said, "This event wonderfully honors Alison's deep commitment
to local education about our increasingly integrated global
society, and we are very grateful to the many individuals and
institutions that have cooperated to make it possible."
For information about the Alison L. Des Forges Memorial Fund,
contact Helene Kramer at 716-843-8895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Confucius Institute at the University at Buffalo was
established in early 2010 to promote the teaching of Chinese
language and culture at UB, in local schools and throughout the
Buffalo community. A major goal of the institute is to provide
teachers and resources to schools to help them establish or expand
Chinese language programs.
The institute collaborated with the Buffalo Public Schools this
year on an "Experience China" summer camp and study tour to Xian,
China, and with Nichols School on a performance by the art troupe
of the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan. Chinese language
and culture classes for businesses and community groups are also
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.