March 31, 2010 – Historian Jonathan Spence, a noted expert on Chinese history and culture, will speak in Washington, DC this spring. Spence will deliver the Jefferson Lecture titled “When Minds Met: China and the West in the Seventeenth Century” on May 20 and the Jay I. Kislak Lecture titled “Mapping the Way: The Chinese Quests of Matteo Ricci” on April 13.
Spence was born in England in 1936 and became an American citizen in 2000. He received a B.A. in history from Clare College, Cambridge, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Yale University, where he studied the history and culture of China. Spence joined the faculty at Yale as an assistant professor in 1966, becoming the George Burton Adams professor of history in 1976 and Sterling professor of history in 1993. In 2008, he retired from full time teaching at Yale, where he was noted for his "dazzling lecture style" and popular undergraduate courses in Chinese history. During his long tenure as a faculty member, he served in numerous administrative capacities, including chair of the Council on East Asian Studies, director of the Division of Humanities, chair of the Department of History, Acting Director of the Whitney Humanities Center, and member of the Yale University Press governing board. Spence is a past president of the American Historical Association (2004), and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1985) and the American Philosophical Society (1997), among other honors.
The thirty-ninth Jefferson Lecture is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. The Jefferson Lecture is the Endowment’s most widely attended annual event. Past Jefferson Lecturers include John Updike, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Bernard Bailyn, Toni Morrison, Arthur Miller, James McPherson, Barbara Tuchman, and Robert Penn Warren. The lectureship carries a $10,000 honorarium.
This year’s event will take place on Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 7pm at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC. Tickets to the lecture are free of charge. To attend, a ticket request must be submitted by May 3 via the NEH’s online form
The fourth Kislak lecture is a component of the Kislak American Studies Program established by the Library of Congress in 2004 by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. Sponsored by the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, the Hispanic Division and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, the lecture is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.
Additional information about Jonathan Spence and the lectures is available on the NEH
and Library of Congress