East Asian Languages and Cultures professor elected to the American Philosophical Society
Ronald Egan, who specializes in the study of classical Chinese literature, is elected to the oldest learned society in the country.
Ronald Egan, the holder of the Confucius Institute Professorship in Sinology in the School of Humanities and Sciences, was elected to the American Philosophical Society (APS), the oldest learned society in the United States.
“I was thrilled by the news of course, particularly because it is an academic honor that stems from nomination by peers in my field whose work I hold in high regard,” said Egan, a professor in Stanford’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.
The American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge,” has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life. Scholars are elected to the society based on their cumulative record, not a single publication or project. Only 5,746 members have been elected since 1743. This year the APS elected eight new members in its Humanities division.
“I look forward to attending the biannual APS meetings in Philadelphia and getting to know other members in diverse academic fields,” Egan said.
Egan specializes in the study of classical Chinese literature, with a focus on the poetry and aesthetics of the Tang and Song dynasties (7th–13th centuries). He has published books on major writers of the period, including Ouyang Xiu and Su Shi, as well as a selected translation of essays on ideas and letters by the 20th century critic Qian Zhongshu.
His most recent published book is a new translation of the complete works of the 12th century female poet, Li Qingzhao. This book is a companion volume to his earlier study of the same writer, The Burden of Female Talent: The Poet Li Qingzhao and Her History in China (Harvard University Press, 2013).
“I seem to have an affinity with very old scholarly societies as befits my research on medieval Chinese history,” Egan said. “I have for decades been an active member of the American Oriental Society and served as its president a few years ago.” That society was founded in 1842. “Now, with membership in the American Philosophical Society I have joined an even older one that predates the USA itself.”
Egan joined the faculty at Stanford in 2012, after teaching as Professor of Chinese at the University of California-Santa Barbara. “I have benefitted from having stimulating colleagues in my Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, as well as in other departments throughout the humanities,” he said.
Throughout his time at Stanford, Egan has taught courses in traditional Chinese literature, China’s cultural history, the interplay of visual and literary arts, and the history of Sinology. “I have particularly enjoyed teaching first-year undergraduate seminars, as well as courses at the graduate level,” Egan said.
His current project is a new study of the Song dynasty writer Su Shi, tentatively titled Exile and Invention in the Prose Writings of Su Shi.