School of Humanities and Sciences


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  • Thomas Bartlett

    Thomas Bartlett

    Lecturer

    BioThomas Bartlett has taught classical and modern Chinese at Yale (1975), Cambridge (1975-6), Princeton (1977-9), Harvard (1987-94), Johns Hopkins (1995-6), and La Trobe (1996-9) Universities, and at Middlebury (1973, 1983, 1987), Wellesley (1986), and Swarthmore (1987) Colleges, before starting to teach at Stanford in 2011. In spring 1989 his proficiency in modern Chinese was graded 4 (of 5) by the U.S. Foreign Service Institute.

    Bartlett's BA cum laude (Harvard, Classics 1961) was in Greek literature; his honors thesis on Aeschylus' drama "Agamemnon," read in Greek, was titled "The Law of Zeus: Learning by Suffering. O Δios νομοσ: πα8ει μα8οσ." His MA (National Taiwan, History 1972) was in ancient Chinese History, with a thesis on Confucian historiography titled "Analysis of the Historian's Commentary on Ritual Propriety in Zuo Chronicle" 左傳中有關禮的史料之分析. His PhD (Princeton, East Asian Studies 1972) was in premodern Chinese history, with a dissertation on Confucian statecraft titled "Gu Yanwu's 顧炎武 (1613-82) Response to 'The Demise of Human Society' 天下亡."

    In 1978 Bartlett was a finalist in the U.S. Department of State's search for a full-time male Mandarin interpreter. In 1980 he worked in Beijing for six months for Turner Construction Co, as interpreter at contract negotiations and as liaison officer with local agencies.

    In 1987 Bartlett declined a Mellon post-doctoral fellowship at an Ivy League university, when told by the offering institution that affirmative action considerations would render him uncompetitive for the subsequent tenure-track teaching position advertised with the Mellon grant.

    From mid-1989 through 1994 he was Professor of Chinese Language and director of Harvard's Chinese Language Program. During 1995-6 he was Director of the Language Teaching Center at Johns Hopkins. During 1996-2007 he was Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, where he occasionally accompanied Australian academic delegations to China as Mandarin interpreter and during each year of 2001-2006 taught a full-year survey course in Chinese history. Since AY 2011-12, he has repeatedly taught courses in the Classical Chinese curriculum at Stanford, emphasizing selected readings in early philosophical and historical texts. In autumn 2013 he was Visiting Professor in the Graduate Institute of History at National Tsing Hua University in Hsin-chu, Taiwan, Republic of China.

    Bartlett's abiding intellectual interests include: 1) conceptual issues relating to the term "Zhongguo" 中國, literally "Central State/s" and often rendered simply as "China" in recent times; 2) issues relating to belief in the authenticity of the classical canon.

    Bartlett's review of Ian Johnston's recent translations from Gu Yanwu's writings appeared in the journal Dao (2018) 17:611-15. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11712-018-9634-6.