On May 20, Jonathan Spence, one of the world’s leading experts on Chinese history and culture, delivered the 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities. The annual lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. To read the lecture, click here.
In the lecture, “When Minds Met: China and the West in the Seventeenth Century,” Spence explored the many ways that one of the first Chinese travelers to reach Europe shared his ideas with the Westerners he met. Though the contacts were brief, they showed the possibilities for a real meeting of the minds between the two dramatically different cultures, and
help us chart the value of the humanities in that distant era.