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Tiger Profile: Paul A. Cohen (Chinese name: 柯文)

Updated: Jul 16, 2022

Paul A. Cohen (Chinese name: Chinese: 柯文) is Edith Stix Wasserman Professor of Asian Studies and History Emeritus at Wellesley College and an Associate of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University since 1965. His research interests include 19th-20th century China; historical thought; American historiography on China. Paul did his PhD with John King Fairbank and Benjamin I. Schwartz. He joined the Wellesley College faculty in 1965 and taught Chinese and Japanese history until his retirement in 2000. While at Wellesley he was instrumental not only in hiring Helen Lin to start the Chinese language program in 1966, but also fostering that program’s growth into the Chinese Department. He was the founding and long-time co-Director of both the East Asian Studies and Chinese Studies programs at Wellesley. Since retirement, Paul continues to do research and write in the field of Chinese history, focusing mainly on the period from the nineteenth century to the present. Paul remains actively involved at Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese studies.


A prolific and award winning writer, many of Paul Cohen’s books were widely studied by and influential to generations of China scholars, including: History and Popular Memory: The Power of Story in Moments of Crisis (2014); Speaking to History: The Story of King Goujian in Twentieth-Century China (2009); China Unbound: Evolving Perspectives on the Chinese Past (2003); Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past (1984); History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth (1997); Between Tradition and Modernity: Wang T'ao and Reform in Late Ch'ing China (1974).

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