Gedalecia, David 1942-

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Gedalecia, David 1942-


Born June 8, 1942, in New York, NY; son of Ben (a State Department employee; also in advertising and market research) and Edith (a social worker) Gedalecia; married Pei-hsin Chia (an information technology analyst), September 9, 1967; children: Derek Ming, Julie Ping. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A. (cum laude), 1965; Harvard University, M.A., 1967, Ph.D., 1971. Politics: "Democrat/Neo-Conservative." Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Guitar, five-string banjo, dobro.


Home—Wooster, OH. Office—Department of History, College of Wooster, Wooster, OH 44691; fax: 330-263-2614. E-mail—[email protected].


College of Wooster, Wooster, OH, Michael O. Fisher Professor of History, 1971—. Worked at New York City-based advertising and market research firms, 1958, and 1965-67.


American Oriental Society, Association for Asian Studies, Columbia University Seminar, Phi Beta Kappa.


American Council of Learned Societies fellowship; national foreign language fellowships from U.S. Defense Department.


In the Service of the Khan: Yüan Personalities, Harrassowitz Verlag (Wiesbaden, Germany), 1993.

The Philosophy of Wu Ch'eng: A Neo-Confucian of the Yüan Dynasty, Indiana University (Bloomington, IN), 1999.

A Solitary Crane in a Spring Grove: The Confucian Scholar Wu Ch'eng in Mongol China, Harrassowitz Verlag (Wiesbaden, Germany), 2000.

Contributor to books, including China under Mongol Rule, edited by John D. Langlois, Jr., Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1981; and Yüan Thought: Chinese Thought and Religion under the Mongols, edited by Hok-lam Chan and William Theodore de Bary, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1982; also contributor to encyclopedias. Contributor of articles, essays, and other works to periodicals, including Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, Philosophy East and West, Bulletin of Sung and Yüan Studies, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Public Affairs, and Journal of Asian Studies.


David Gedalecia once told CA: "My experiences in graduate school taught me the value of making a contribution to scholarship. Encouraged by the late Professor Francis Cleaves and Professor Mei Tsu-lin at Harvard, I focused my studies on a Chinese intellectual who lived during the period of Mongol rule in China but who had been largely ignored by historians. My contributions to understanding this era in Chinese history have been modest, but I hope that others will build on some of the areas I have explored. As the dean of Chinese historians Professor John K. Fairbank once told me when I mentioned my efforts, ‘anything you publish contributes to our knowledge.’

"In college I had the good fortune of studying with Professor Bernard Solomon, now retired from Queens College of the City University of New York. His enthusiasm for teaching and the world of ideas, as exemplified in his writings on the T'ang period and the ancient Logical School of Chinese philosophy, launched me on my scholarly career. Professor Cleaves, who always demanded that one make his ideas ‘crystal clear,’ was also a significant mentor.

"I find that I cannot pursue research and writing unless I have a central idea. This requires browsing and some serendipity. Once a theme is ‘roughed out,’ it must be refined by outlining some questions and approaches. In other words, something must guide the research after one's initial inquiries.

"When I first began studying the intellectual history of the Mongol era in China, the field was depopulated. It was a somewhat solitary task, and I wondered if any of the efforts really mattered. A few years out of graduate school, and while embarking on a teaching career, I became part of the planning process for two research conferences on the Mongol period in China that spawned volumes published by Columbia and Princeton. The participants were the students of scholars like Professor Cleaves but also included established ones in the field, such as Professor Herbert Franke and Professor David Farquhar, and a sense of camaraderie developed between the scholarly generations. Subsequently the field ‘came alive,’ and this motivated me to continue my research, which included the early Yüan period. But all this does not completely explain why I chose to work on the Yüan scholar Wu Ch'eng (1249-1333).

"Wu Ch'eng maintained an ‘on-again/off-again’ relationship with the Mongol establishment in Beijing (he hailed from South China), serving in educational posts only a little over five of his eighty-five years. When he did serve, he was often at odds with northern Chinese who wished to promote the kind of formulaic learning that separates one from a deeper understanding of moral truth, and which became the basis for the examination system that was revived early in the fourteenth century and existed down to 1905. Wu had been exposed to varied approaches to Confucian learning and tried to balance exegesis with spiritual sensibilities. He found that he could only accomplish this in his private scholarly writing and through teaching, not in public service during a time of alien rule. I was much attracted to his spirit of independent inquiry, especially as the pursuit of learning in our own time became, in my view, somewhat rote and polarized. Wu Ch'eng wrote his essays on philosophical and historical issues for his students and for himself, and ultimately this should be the reason why one puts pen to paper."