Hsiung, Ping-Chen 1952–
Hsiung, Ping-Chen 1952–
Historian, educator, and author. Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China, senior researcher and associate director; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, fellow. Founder, Research Center for Medicine and Culture, University of Medicine at National Taiwan University; adjunct professor of history, Fu Jeng Catholic University, Taipei. Visiting faculty member or scholar at various institutions, including the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany; École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale, Paris, France; Keio University, Tokyo, Japan; Princeton University; University of Southern California, Los Angeles; University of Michigan; Harvard Medical School; and University of Chicago.
Western Civilization (junior high school textbook; includes handbook), National Bureau for Translation and Publication (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 1984.
The Reminiscences of Dr. Huo-Yao Wei—Taiwan and Modern Health Care, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 1990.
A Daily Chronicle of Health and Medicine in Modern China (1900-1937), Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 1991.
The Reminiscences of Dr. Yang Wen-Ta—The Development of Military Medicine in Modern China, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 1991.
Yu-Yu: Infant Care in Traditional China, Lien-Ching (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 1995.
(With Mu-Chou Poo) A History of Chinese Culture, Tung-Hua (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 1997.
In Peace or in Discomfort: Diseases and Health of Young Children in Late Imperial China, Lien-Ching (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 1999.
(Editor) Neo-Confucian Orthodoxy and Human Desire in Ming-Ch'ing China, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 1999.
Reflections on Childhood in the Past—A History of Chinese Children, Rye Field (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 2000.
(Editor) Let Proof Talk, Mai-T'ien (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China), 2001.
A Tender Voyage: Children and Childhood in Late Imperial China, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2005.
(Editor, with Charlotte Furth and Judith T. Zeitlin) Thinking with Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History, University of Hawaii Press (Honolulu, HI), 2007.
Contributor to books, including Women and Man in Taiwan, edited by Murray Rubinstein and others, M.E. Sharpe, 1998; Imagining Boundaries: Changing Confucian Doctrines, Texts, and Hermeneutics, edited by K.W. Chow, State University of New York Press, 1999; and The Quest for Gentility in China: Negotiations beyond Gender and Class, edited by Daria Berg and Chloe Starr, Routledge, 2007. Contributor to periodicals, including Thought and Word Monthly, Journal of Chinese Pediatrics, Journal of Family History, Chinese Literature, Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Indigenous Psychological Research in Chinese Societies, and the Newsletter of the Association for Modern History.
Ping-Chen Hsiung is a noted historian based in Taiwan who has published widely on topics such as Chinese cultural and social history, especially in modern times. She has also written on issues of gender, family, and childhood. Commenting on her book Yu-Yu: Infant Care in Traditional China, published in 1995, the author noted in an interview on the Indiana University East Asian Studies Center Web site that the book "made people in early education and even children's law experts want to have me talk to them, because it deals with the fundamental assumptions of the beginnings of life. How does a society identify itself with life and how should the earlier phase of life ought to be treated?"
In her 2005 book A Tender Voyage: Children and Childhood in Late Imperial China, the author provides a full-length study of the history of childhood and children's lives in late imperial China. Analyzing both the normative concept of childhood from a literary and philosophical perspective, and the treatment and experience of children in China, Hsiung begins with a history of pediatrics and newborn care in traditional China and their evolution over time. She goes on to write about the history of nursing and infant feeding in China, various modes of upbringing, and how children were expected to behave. She also focuses on the treatment of different kinds of children and investigates the domestic bond and relationships children had with the adults around them. In the book's final chapter, "Concepts and Realities," Hsiung compares and contrasts concepts of childhood in China and the West.
"Hsiung explores almost a thousand years of the history of childhood in China, a phenomenon that was culturally and historically specific, and different in significant ways from modern conceptions," noted Michael Szonyi in the Canadian Journal of History. "Put so starkly, this is hardly a startling finding, but the book is nonetheless the highly original work of a master cultural historian." Referring to A Tender Voyage as a "masterly study," Susan Mann went on to write in her review in the Journal of Social History that the author's "analysis is also intended to challenge European and North American scholarship on the history of childhood."
A Tender Voyage is divided into three sections. The first, titled "Physical Conditions," focuses on treatment of children, newborn care, and nursing and feeding infants. In section two, "Social Life," the author addresses modes of upbringing, domestic bonds, and the children's emotional world. The final section is titled "Multiplicity" and explores girlhood and the idea of concepts and realities. In the book's preface, Hsiung writes the following about A Tender Voyage: "Venturing forth with such sweeping views and concerns, I felt the following can hardly stand as a monograph on Chinese children's history." The author went on to refer to her book as "a collection of essays to fill the void" concerning research into childhood history in China. The author also writes: "A stack of short stories can hardly be called a novel, so these smaller works on issues or vignettes related to infant's and children's lives are a patchwork representation of Chinese history which may provide useful building blocks for varied narratives and more structured analyses."
Writing in the book's introduction, Hsiung notes that the "quest for a history of children and childhood is rewarding and challenging in two fundamental ways." The author goes on to write: "First, it reminds us that history and human existence are not only made both of the collective and the individual, but each individual's life journey is made up of many different phases. A person's station and standing in any one of these various periods entails conditions and experiences that are not just culturally or historically specific but are also defined by his/her particular age in that society. Second, those living through the same period of time, in the same sections of population (in terms of religion, class, and gender), constitute an ‘age group’ whose historical dimension is hardly clear."
A Tender Voyage received praise from several critics. "A Tender Voyage provides a model that illuminates the ways in which children's history can augment, and rectify, our understanding of larger socio-cultural histories," wrote Margaret Mih Tillman on the Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies Web site, adding: "Like an attentive doctor, Professor Hsiung carefully examines the body of the subaltern child, and her recent book shares valuable insights into the field of children's history in not only China, but also in the West." Szonyi concluded: "This book presents interesting data, ideas, and speculation on almost every page."
The author is also the editor, with Charlotte Furth and Judith T. Zeitlin, of Thinking with Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History. This book presents a series of essays by scholars considering China's use of case studies to produce empirical knowledge in premodern China and the effectiveness of this approach applied to general patterns as opposed to the individual situations from which they are drawn. The essays are organized into categories focusing on law, medicine, and religion and philosophy; they trace how the Chinese thought in terms of cases dating back to the ninth century. Among the topics discussed are the development of forensic knowledge in the Qing dynasty via the use of case studies. They also write about case records, pediatric medicine and case studies, and Confucian case learning.
Written by an international group of senior scholars, Thinking with Cases ultimately shows how this practice acquired a systematic and public character in China, beginning with the ninth century and beyond. In the process, the editors show how the study of cases reveals historically specific epistemologies that offer insight into how Chinese leaders dealt with the clash between classical thinking and norms and the more modern practice-based judgment of understanding the world. In addition, they present a coherent set of interlocking arguments to shed light on the techno-magical versus literati-scholarly styles of constructing authority.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Hsiung, Ping-Chen, A Tender Voyage: Children and Childhood in Late Imperial China, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2005.
American Historical Review, April, 2006, Paul S. Ropp, review of A Tender Voyage, p. 445.
Canadian Journal of History, spring-summer, 2006, Michael Szonyi, review of A Tender Voyage, p. 181.
China Quarterly, December, 2007, Luca Gabbiani, review of Thinking with Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History, p. 1044.
Choice, January, 2006, H.T. Wong, review of A Tender Voyage, p. 912.
Historian, winter, 2006, Linda Cooke Johnson, review of A Tender Voyage, p. 855.
Journal of Asian Studies, February, 2006, Keith N. Knapp, review of A Tender Voyage, p. 165.
Journal of Social History, fall, 2006, Susan Mann, review of A Tender Voyage, p. 227.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 2005, review of A Tender Voyage, p. 154.
Barnard College Web site,http://www.barnard.edu/ (April 14, 2008), brief author profile.
Book News, Inc.,http://www.booknews.com/ (April 14, 2008), review of Thinking with Cases.
Grinnell College Center for International Studies Web site,http://www.grinnell.edu/academic/cis/ (April 14, 2008), brief author profile.
Indiana University East Asian Studies Center Web site,http://www.indiana.edu/~easc/ (October 1, 2001), "Spotlight on … Lessons from History: A Conversation with Hsiung Ping-Chen."
Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica Web site,http://www.mh.sinica.edu.tw/ (April 14, 2005), author's curriculum vitea.
Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies,http://sjeas.skku.edu/ (April 14, 2008), Margaret Mih Tillman, review of A Tender Voyage.