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The humanities and liberal education are the soul of the university. In China, the humanities sustain a long and rich tradition, but they only became part of the programme of a modern university as recently as the twentieth century. From the perspective of history, the humanities have three characteristics: First, the humanities, as we think of them today, developed during the process of nation-state formation, and were deeply influenced by European and American universities, and are closely associated with the self-image of a modern nation-state. Second, the humanities came into being as theology/classical learning gradually lost its sacredness and dominance, and they developed post-theological/classical or secular values for human beings. Lastly, the humanities were born in a competition for dominance with the sciences. In a contemporary context, all of these conditions are undergoing a great transformation. What are the new challenges and missions for the Humanities?
Wang Hui is Professor of both Literature and History at Tsinghua University, and Director of the Tsinghua Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Sciences. He studied under the guidance of Professor Tang Tao, a famous literary historian and one of Lu Xun’s students. He studied about Lu Xun and literary history and received his PhD from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1988. In 2002, he moved from CASS to Tsinghua University. During 1996-2007, he organized a series of intellectual discussions in China as the chief editor of Dushu Magazine, the most influential intellectual journal in China. He has published extensively on Chinese intellectual history and literature, and engaged in debates on historical and contemporary issues. Many of his books have been translated into English, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, German, Slovenian, etc., including English translations China from China’s Twentieth Century (2015), Empire to Nation-State (2014), The Politics of Imagining Asia (2010), The End of Revolution (2009) and China’s New Order (2003). His four-volume work The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought (2004) is thought as one of the most important contributions to Chinese academic world in the last twenty years. Wang Hui has received several awards including the “2013 Luca Pacioli Prize”.