New Book Looks at Yale from Chinese Point of View

It's a small world and getting smaller, thanks, in part, to Kang-i Sun Chang, whose latest book, "Reflections on Yale, Gender, and Culture," will be published in China next month.

It’s a small world and getting smaller, thanks, in part, to Kang-i Sun Chang, whose latest book, “Reflections on Yale, Gender, and Culture,” will be published in China next month.

Chang is a literature professor at Yale. Her writing in English is scholarly academic work. In China, however, she is best known for lively magazine articles about Yale, American life, feminism, literature and film. “Reflections” brings together about 40 of these articles, including essays on Yale’s mascot, Handsome Dan, the bulldog; the Women’s Table and coeducation at Yale; Yale’s residential college system; the difference between Yale and Harvard; and the trials and triumphs of graduate student life.

Why publish a book in Chinese about Yale?

“Recently, readers in both China and Taiwan have been extremely interested in information and stories about Yale,” Chang said. “People are interested in modernization, in general, and especially want to learn about the great universities of the world. Education is the most important thing in our culture. Parents will sacrifice a great deal to provide an education for their children.”

Chang was born in Beijing and raised in Taiwan, where she graduated from Tunghai University in 1966 with a major in English literature. She earned her Ph.D. degree in 1978 from Princeton University in classical Chinese literature, with additional studies in Chinese history and comparative literature. She joined the Yale faculty in 1982 and has been here since then.

Two versions of “Reflections” will be released February, one in Taiwan, the other in China. The Taiwanese edition, from Er-ya Publishing House, is written in the complex form of the Chinese language, and includes articles about President Richard C. Levin and four Yale professors that do not appear in the mainland edition: Jules Prown, David Brion Davis, Vladimir Alexandrov and Victor Erlich. The second edition, from Shanghai’s Wenyi Publisher, is written in simplified Chinese and features more photos of the Yale campus.

The first section of Chang’s book is devoted to Yale: its history and traditions, student life, and profiles of scholars whose work is familiar to Chinese readers. The rest of the book touches on Yale more tangentially, through personal essays on love and longing, language and poetry, political correctness, family and other matters.

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