Missionary-Writer: Arthur H. Smith and his Chinese Narrative

Mar 12 12:00–1:30pm
Common Room, 2 Divinity Ave., Cambridge

Duan Huaiqing (Associate Professor in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Fudan University; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair/discussant: Ellen Widmer (Mayling Soong Professor of Chinese Studies; Professor of East Asian Studies, Wellesley College)

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Arthur H. Smith (明恩溥, 1845-1932) evangelized and lived in China for more than 50 years. He not only carried out theological work as a missionary, but also observed and experienced everyday life in China, and seemingly found his mission in secular daily life, which can be seen in his writings such as Village Life in China, Chinese Characteristics, and Proverbs and Common Sayings from the Chinese. Unlike his missionary colleagues, 明恩溥 focused more on the daily lives of Chinese people than on literary China. Through his simple and direct writing style, he presented his observations to foreign readers, showing them the ‘other’ side of China or even an entirely new China. His narrative rhetoric naturally followed his experiences, observing and discovering without interior tension or conflict, and transcended the point of view of the conventional missionary.