CEAS Faculty Retirement Tributes (2018) from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

May 21, 2018

Annping Chin

Senior Lecturer in History

Annping Chin, B.S. Michigan State University, Ph.D. Columbia University, faculty member at Yale since 1995: Through your dedicated scholarship and teaching on classical Chinese thought and biography, you have been a true Yale institution for over twenty years. You have excelled in all aspects of academic life and inspired everyone who knows you. You have written with rigor and grace for general audiences as well as academics, on subjects as disparate as ancient Chinese thought, the biography of Confucius, and the lives of twentieth-century Chinese. You are especially adept at evoking the human experience lying behind the ideologies of imperial and modern China, through sensitive biographies expressed with great literary flair. Four Sisters of Hofei, published in 2002, traced the lives of four women who were pioneers in pursuing higher education in twentieth-century China, showing vividly their personal relations and their contributions to modern life. The Authentic Confucius tracked with scholarly rigor the real story of the philosopher whose words are fundamental to all Chinese intellectual thought, but whose life is wrapped in legend and hagiography. Your new translation of the Confucian Analects gave us a verified, clear, and readable version of this classic text.

You have participated actively in the newest investigations of ancient Chinese thought, based on bamboo slips discovered in tombs, debating these exciting subjects at international conferences with leading scholars in China. We look forward with great anticipation to your next project, on the reception of the Analects in China and the West. You will always be actively exploring new directions and making original contributions to our knowledge of Chinese thought.

You have taught a remarkable range of courses, both to undergraduates and graduate students, ranging from the classical tradition in China to biographies of modern Chinese people. As the only teacher in the History Department teaching the classical period, your courses have been demanding but inspiring. As one student wrote, “She loves her work, and she will make it impossible for you not to love it too.” You also have supervised many senior essays, going well beyond the call of duty to help Yale students complete serious work based on primary sources. Graduate students in all fields of Chinese history have benefited greatly from your emphasis on paying close attention to classical sources and their commentaries.

On the personal level, you have made Yale a warm and welcoming place for new faculty and new students, with your enthusiasm for scholarship of all kinds, your excitement over new and classic films, and last but not least, the superb dinners at your home, where you and Jonathan Spence have hosted visitors of all ages and countries over the past two decades. A wonderful gardener, whose home garden is an oasis of grace and beauty, Yale celebrates you as a valued colleague, talented scholar, and admirable person for making so much bloom here and hopes you will continue adding to the scholarship you have helped blossom in future years.

Deborah Davis

Professor of Sociology

Deborah Davis, B.A. Wellesley College, Ph.D. Boston University, faculty member at Yale since 1978: Your scholarship has tracked the rise of China across five decades, one of the most far-reaching and important societal transitions in modern world history. You have made fundamental contributions toward understanding the many complex processes that attended the shift from Maoist China to market China. You never have lost sight of the fundamental need to challenge facile rhetoric and have been a strong and clear voice for evidence-driven, social scientific study of China. You consistently have journeyed outside the common frames of reference of the political scientists and economists to encompass a panoramic range of fundamental societal issues involving socioeconomic inequality, stratification, and mobility; housing; urban life; consumers and the consumer revolution; life-course issues from childhood to old age; the SARS crisis; education and occupation; family life and gender roles – the list could go on for quite a while longer. Through nine authored or edited books and so many articles, you have contributed to building a basic place for sociology in the scholarly study of China for years to come. Importantly, you often have worked in partnership with Chinese scholars during this intellectual journey. In so doing, you have become a revered leader, colleague, and mentor to so many in China itself.

In addition to your contributions as a pioneering scholar of China, you have also been a dedicated member of the Yale community and selfless team player. Your excellence in undergraduate teaching, recognized by the Lex Hixon ;63 Prixe for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences,  has extended beyond the campus gates.  You have run a summer fieldwork seminar where Yale students work collaboratively with students from Hong Kong and China. You have served as Trustee of the Yale-China Association spanning the better of part of four decades and tirelessly assisted the University in many administrative roles, including as Chair of the Council on East Asian Studies, and Co-Chair of the Women Faculty Forum. You were Chair of Sociology at a time when the department was in crisis and in need of rebuilding, keeping the ship afloat against the odds. Beyond Yale, it is no surprise that you have been on multiple professional committees and reviewed and edited for countless leading journals. In the wider community, you are spotted frequently at many Yale music events with your accomplished husband - pianist, theorist, composer and pedagogue Michael Friedmann. Since we cannot imagine a finer advocate for the sociological study of China nor a better citizen to Yale, we imagine celebrating you with the ancient traditional Chinese Plum Blossom Melody, “praising those with high moral integrity and unyielding courage, tempered in depth of experience.”

William Wright Kelly

Professor of Anthropology and Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies

Bill Kelly, B.A. Amherst College, Ph.D. Brandeis University, faculty member at Yale since 1980: You are one of the foremost social and historical anthropologists of Japan. You began your career with a magisterial study of irrigation in the Shonai region of Japan and later expanded that work to a broader consideration of agrarian life and state and class formation in modern Japan. In your later career, your work inspired new fields of inquiry like anthropological approaches to the formation of middle classes in Asian society, particularly Japan, and the anthropology of sports and mega-events like the Olympic Games.

As a teacher you have been truly nonpareil, at every level. Your legendary Yale College courses on Japan and sports were famous for filling up beyond capacity only moments after course registration period began. Your graduate seminar for Japan scholars developed a reputation for being the preeminent space for the study of Japan in North America, and many graduate students were known to take this course multiple times. Your rigorous first-year graduate seminar on the history of the discipline of anthropology trained a generation of Yale Ph.D. students and is well-known among historians of the discipline, who regularly consult the extensive lecture notes and commentaries you made freely available online, well before the emergence of digital humanities and open access scholarship in academia. 

In addition to your mentoring of students at all levels, you have been a trusted and dedicated mentor for junior faculty members, creating and expanding a system of faculty mentoring that stewarded several colleagues through Yale’s rigorous tenure process and guided younger faculty firmly but with gentle guidance and care. Little more needs to be offered to persuade anyone about the strength of your teaching and mentoring than to point out that you have won at Yale a teaching trifecta: the McCredie Teaching Award for Information Technology in Teaching in Yale College, the Harwood F. Byrnes/Richard B. Sewall Teaching Prize for distinguished teaching in Yale College, and the Graduate Mentor Award in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

These are the facts. But in generalizing from them it must be said that a large part of what has made Yale Anthropology so well-known for innovating distinctive approaches to the historically informed study of contemporary Asian societies is owed to you. For decades you have been one of the sage counsellors to whom colleagues routinely turned for advice and guidance on keeping Yale eminent in East Asian Studies. You twice chaired the department with grace and rectitude, and in your second term as Chair (2006-2010) you also presided over its unprecedented growth and diversification. In recent years, you have been the key figure in maintaining connections between the department’s history and its new generations, and in generously hosting the annual gathering of students, faculty, and alumni at the meetings of the American Anthropological Association, where you know everyone and everyone knows you. In a large sense, Bill Kelly, you are a significant part of the heart and soul of Yale Anthropology.

Finally, not to be-omitted in this write up for Yale history, is your co-authorship of a 2009 book about one of your passions, golf. The book, entitled Golf at Yale: The Players, the Teams, the Course, tells the story of 114 years of Yale golf, with drawings, photographs, and commentaries on each hole. The hardcover of this book is now selling for $634 on Amazon.com! As your colleagues wish you a happy retirement, they pause to note with admiration that throughout your Yale career your grip has been firm, your swing elegant, your follow-through impressive, and your life of teaching and scholarship nothing less than a golf career Grand Slam.

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