Valerie Hansen, newly designated as the Stanley Woodward Professor of History, focuses her research on China before 1600, Chinese religious and legal history, and the history of the Silk Road.
Hansen’s books include “The Silk Road: A New History,” “The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600,” “Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China,” “Changing Gods in Medieval China, 1127-1279,” and “Voyages in World History” (co-authored with Kenneth R. Curtis). She has written numerous essays, chapters, and translations in scholarly books and journals.
Hansen is currently working on “The Year 1000: When Globalization Began,” which examines the impact of travelers who visited unfamiliar locales, opening up overland and sea trade routes that marked “the true beginning of globalization.” These networks allowed multiple kingdoms and empires to encounter each other for the first time, causing goods, people, and ideas to move into new regions. In that year the Viking voyages to northeastern Canada closed the “global loop,” making it possible for a single object or idea to go around the world from the Americas to Eurasia (or in the opposite direction).
Hansen joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor of history in 1988. Prior to her new appointment, she served as a full professor of history. Her lecture courses include “The Silk Road,” “History 101: Circa 1000” (with Anders Winroth), and “Islam in Asia” (with Michael Rapoport). She conducts seminars in “Social History of the Chinese Silk Road,” “Issues in Tang, Song, and Yuan History,” “Documents of the Tang, Song, and Yuan Dynasties,” and “History of World History.” Hansen taught at Yale-NUS in the fall of 2015 and has also taught at Peking University. This summer she is the director of the Mellon Writing-in-Residence Workshop, in which 15 Ph.D. students in the humanities meet daily in Sterling Memorial Library to write and workshop their drafts.
The Yale professor’s honors include the 2013 Gustav Ranis International Book Prize for the best book on an international subject by a member of the Yale faculty and the 2013 International Convention of Asia Scholars Book Prize Reading Committee Accolade for the best teaching tool in the humanities.