Contemplating the Ancients

Submitted by ub on Tue, 11/29/2011 - 10:40

Lecture in English.

As a descendent of the Hsu and Chi families, Dr. Hsin-Mei Agnes Hsu 徐心眉 will talk about her paternal family's Catholic origins tracing back to Hsu Kuang-Ch'i's conversion in 1603 under the influence of Matteo Ricci, and colourful tales of her maternal great-great-grandfather, Chi Yun, Chief Editor of China's most important literary encyclopaedia, Siku quanshu (Complete Library in Four Branches of Literature).

Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), simply known in Ming history as "the Grand Minister" for his illustrious service, was an agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician. Xu was a colleague and collaborator of the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci; together they translated several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of Euclid's Elements. Hsu was one of the "Three Pillars of Chinese Catholicism" and is known in Vatican history by his baptismal name Paul Hsu. Ji Yun (1724-1805), best known by his sobriquet Ji Xiaolan, was a prominent figure in Qing history and served a prolific career as a scholar and Minister of War and Personnel to the Qianlong Emperor. He is best known for his magnum opus, Siku quanshu.

Dr. Hsu was born and raised in Taipei. She studied Classical Archaeology and English Literature at Bryn Mawr College and received her graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Hsu served for three years as the Special Assistant to Ambassador James R. Lilley. In 2002, Dr. Hsu was the first American graduate student to receive a special Mellon Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship for the study of ancient Chinese science at the Joseph Needham Research Institute on the grounds of Cambridge University. From 2004 to 2007, Dr. Hsu was on the faculty at Brown University and in 2007 was recruited by Stanford University as the Mellon Research Scholar for a special project on Rome
and China. Dr. Hsu joined China Institute in late 2008. Her research and publications have focused on cross-cultural studies of early empires. Since 2006, as an International Expert to UNESCO World Heritage Centre, she has served on the scientific committees for the Qhapag Ñan and the Continental Silk Road. She has conducted fieldwork in Xinjiang and travelled to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on behalf of UNESCO and the American Museum of Natural History. She consulted and appeared in Discovery Channel's Ancient Manmade Marvels series on Chinese archaeology.

Saturday, December 3 ~ 2 - 4 PM
Free member / $5 non-member

To register, please visit or call 646-912-8861.