Paul A. Cohen

Center Associate, Professor of History Emeritus, Wellesley College


Paul A. Cohen (柯文) retired from Wellesley College in 2000 after teaching Chinese history for 35 years. He has been affiliated with the Fairbank Center since 1965, and he continues to research and write in the field of Chinese history, focusing mainly on the period from the nineteenth century to the present. His recent publications include History and Popular Memory: The Power of Story in Moments of Crisis (Columbia University Press, 2014), which contains chapters on Serbia, Palestine/Israel, China, France, the USSR, and England. In working on this book, Professor Cohen says, “I made two discoveries: first, a book that doesn’t focus mainly on China takes a lot less time to write, and, second, there was a whole world out there that I knew next to nothing about. It was like going to college again in my retirement.”

Selected Publications


  • China and Christianity: The Missionary Movement and the Growth of Chinese Antiforeignism, 1860-1870 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963) (2nd printing, 1967; 3rd printing, 1977)
  • Between Tradition and Modernity: Wang T’ao and Reform in Late Ch’ing China, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974) (paperback reprint, with new preface, by Harvard Council on East Asian Studies, 1987) (PRC Chinese translation published by Jiangsu Renmin Chubanshe, Nanjing, 1994)
  • Reform in Nineteenth-Century China, coedited with John E. Schrecker (Cambridge, Mass.: East Asian Research Center, Harvard University, 1976) (2nd printing, 1979)
  • Report on the Young American Political Leaders Delegation to the People’s Republic of China, (New York: National Committee on United States-China Relations, 1977) (2nd printing, January 1978)
  • Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984) (paperback ed., 1985; second paperback ed. with new preface copyrighted by author, 1996; reissued in 2010 [cloth and paper] with new introduction copyrighted by author, 2010). (Japanese translation published by Heibonsha, Tokyo, 1988; PRC Chinese translation published by Zhonghua Book Company, Beijing, 1989; expanded edition published by Zhonghua in 2005; two different Taiwan Chinese translations, one published by Daoxiang Publishing Co., Taibei, 1991, the other by Lianjing Publishing Co., Taibei, 1991; Korean translation published by Sansae Publishing Co., Seoul, 2003)
  • Ideas Across Cultures: Essays on Chinese Thought in Honor of Benjamin I. Schwartz, coedited with Merle Goldman (Cambridge, Mass.: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1990)
  • Fairbank Remembered, cocompiled with Merle Goldman (Cambridge, Mass.:Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University, 1992) (PRC Chinese translation published by Dongfang Chuban Zhongxin, Shanghai, 2000)
  • History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997) (paperback ed., 1998) (PRC Chinese translation published by Jiangsu Renmin Chubanshe, Nanjing, 2000)
  • China Unbound: Evolving Perspectives on the Chinese Past (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003)
  • Speaking to History: The Story of King Goujian in Twentieth-Century China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009) (paperback ed. published in 2010)
  • The Power of Story and Popular Memory: Six Countries in Crisis (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2017)

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • “Boxers, Christians, and the Gods: The Boxer Conflict of 1900 as a Religious War,” in Vincent Goossaert, ed., CRITICAL READINGS ON RELIGIONS OF CHINA, 4 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 4:1451-80)
  • “Peter Hessler: Teacher, Archaeologist, Anthropologist, Travel Writer, Master Storyteller,” forthcoming in JOURNAL OF ASIAN STUDIES, May 2013 issue