Merle Goldman

Center Associate; Professor of History Emerita, Boston University



Merle Goldman (戈德曼) is the author of a number of books on modern Chinese history and culture. Her last two books, China’s Intellectuals: Advise and Dissent (1981) and Sowing the Seeds of Democracy in China (1994), were selected by the New York Times Book Review as among the notable books of their respective years. The latter book was also selected by the American Association of Publishers, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, as the best book on government published in 1994. She also has edited five books ranging from a discussion of Chinese culture in the early decades of the twentieth century to Science and Technology in Post-Mao China. Her latest research is on “From Comrade to Citizen in the People’s Republic of China: The Struggle for Political Rights in Post-Mao China.” She has published over fifty articles for scholarly journals and also has written for the New York Review of Books, New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, and The Boston Globe. She has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Social Science Research Center. She was a member of the United States delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights (1993-94) and a member of the Presidential Commission on Establishing Radio Free Asia. In 1982, she received the Radcliffe Graduate Award for Distinguished Achievements.

Research interests: modern Chinese history, including political reform and the struggle for political rights in reform era China; history of Chinese intellectuals and literary dissent.

Selected Publications


  • Literary Dissent in Communist China, Harvard University Press, 1967; Atheneum paperback, 1970
  • China’s Intellectuals: Advise and Dissent, Harvard University Press, 1981*; paperback, 1987
  • Sowing the Seeds of Democracy in China: Political Reform in the Deng Xiaoping Decade, Harvard University Press, 1994*; paperback, 1995
  • China: A New History. Enlarged Edition, coauthored with John K. Fairbank, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998
  • From Comrade to Citizen: The Struggle for Political Rights in China, Harvard University Press, 2005 *Selected as “notable books” by The New York Times, 1981 and 1994.

Edited Books

  • ​​Editor, Modern Chinese Literature in the May Fourth Era, Harvard University Press, 1977; paperback, 1985
  • China’s Intellectuals and the State: In Search of a New Relationship in the People’s Republic of China, a Conference Volume, edited with an introduction, “Uncertain Change,” Council on East Asian Publications, Harvard University, 1987
  • Co-editor, Science and Technology in Post-Mao China, Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1989
  • Ideas Across Cultures, Essays on Chinese thought in honor of Benjamin Schwartz, coedited with Paul Cohen and introduction written with Paul Cohen, Harvard University Press, 1990
  • Fairbank Remembered, co-edited with Paul Cohen, Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, 1992
  • The Paradox of China’s Reforms, co-edited with Roderick MacFarquhar, Harvard University Press, 1999
  • Historical Perspectives on Contemporary East Asia, co-edited, Harvard University Press, 2000
  • Intellectual History of Modern China, co-edited, Cambridge University Press, 2002
  • Changing Meanings of Citizenship in Modern China, co-edited, Harvard University Press, 2002
  • Grassroots Political Reform in Contemporary China, co-edited with Elizabeth Perry, Harvard University Press, 2007