Reading Cai Yuanpei

latrobeInvitation to Join Masterclass with Peter Zarrow

Professor Peter Zarrow, one of the world’s leading historians of modern China, will be conducting a masterclass using a selection of readings by Cai Yuanpei (1968-1940). The masterclass will held in the China Studies Research Centre, La Trobe University, on the afternoons of 11 and 12 August.

This event is open to all. In particular, the organizers welcome the participation of local and interstate postgraduate scholars.

Cai Yuanpei was one of the founders of the discipline of aesthetics in China. But for Cai, aesthetics was as much about personal, social, and political transformation as it was a theory of beauty and art.  We will read three essays, written in the first years of the Republic (1912-1920), that illustrate the connections Cai wanted to make between his Kantian notions of aesthetics and his views on revolution and modernity.  Cai (1868-1940) received a classical education, passed the highest civil service exams, and was appointed to the Hanlin Imperial Academy, before he turned to revolution just after the turn of the twentieth century.  Today he is best known as the first Minister of Education of the Republic of China, president of Peking University during the May Fourth movement, and founding president of Academia Sinica.  He was also one of the founders of Chinese liberalism.  But to understand the man we must understand how aesthetics became central to his worldview.

Professor Zarrow is Professor History at the University and Connecticut and adjunct Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica (Taipei). His research focuses on the intellectual and cultural life of China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  His most recent books are Educating China: Knowledge, Society, and Textbooks in a Modernizing World, 1902-1937 (Cambridge, 2015); After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State, 1885-1924 (Stanford, 2012); and co-edited with Chang Che-chia, The Construction of New Knowledge in Modern China [in Chinese]  (Taipei, 2013).  He is currently working on utopianism in modern China and a history of the Forbidden City in the twentieth century.

Venue: Room 318, Education 2 Bld., La Trobe University, Melbourne campus, Bundoora.

Date and time: Thurs 11 August 2:30pm – 4:30pm; Fri 12 August, 2:30pm-4:30pm.

Registration is essential. Upon registration, participants will receive a set of the readings that will be the focus of the masterclass.

Enquiries and registration: