Sarah Schneewind

Institutional Affiliation 
Associate Professor of History, UC San Diego
Professional Bio 

Sarah Schneewind is a graduate of Cornell, Yale, and Columbia Universities. Her most readable book is A Tale of Two Melons: Emperor and Subject in Ming China, a close study of what one strange episode reveals about the complex relations between the autocratic, bureaucratic Ming monarchy (1368-1644) and the vibrant, in some ways populist culture fostered within long written and popular traditions by the most productive economy in the world. She has critiqued the habit of explaining everything in Ming with reference to the dynastic founder, in Community Schools and the State in Ming China, and edited a volume of essays by 20 historians that traces the development of that habit of explanation. At present she is researching the practice of making shrines to honor (or worship?) officials while they were still alive, a practice that, she argues, offered a legitimate space for popular participation in political discourse. At UCSD she teaches Korean and Japanese history up to about 1200 AD, as well as Chinese history from 1200 BC to 1644, when the Ming was defeated and the Qing dynasty took over. She has also published an article on the influence of a Chinese classic on the Declaration of Independence.

Area of Expertise 

My area of expertise is relations between state and society in the Ming period, but I started out (in a Master's program at Yale) studying the PRC, especially rural villages and politics, from the perspective of political science and sociology, and that kind of work on contemporary power and resistance is what informs my thinking. By studying local gazetteers and other locally produced sources in Classical Chinese, I try to figure out what they can tell us about political dynamics that is similar to those easier to see in 20th century sources. I also study and teach the Analects of Confucius quite intensively.

Workshop Locations