Updated: Jul 23, 2022
Jim has interesting family ties to China and Chinese culture. His father was on a construction crew that maintained the tarmac for the Flying Tigers 1941-42 in Chengdu, China. Later, after his father returned to the US and started a family, he landed a job in Taiwan in the early 1960’s and relocated Jim’s family there. The family did not stay in Taiwan long, but Jim’s father continued to work with Taiwan firms for about a decade and often brought Jim with him to Taiwan. Jim remembers making friends and mastering simple spoken Mandarin.
Jim rekindled his connection with Chinese culture during college in a Comparative Politics class and by senior year was immersed in China Studies. After military service, Jim enrolled in graduate school at Indiana University, where he earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Chinese language and literature. He has taught Chinese language in several intensive language programs, both in the United States (Middlebury College) and in China (Princeton-in-Beijing). Since the 1990s, he taught at the University at Albany, State University of New York. His main research interest is pre-modern Chinese prose literature, especially as it relates to place. Recently retired from the University at Albany-SUNY, Hargett is now an Adjunct Professor of Chinese at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. His most recent book is Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools: The History of Travel Literature in Imperial China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019). He is currently working on an English translation of Xu Xiake's 徐霞客 (1587-1641) travel diaries.