Professor Paul Ropp’s new book examines China in World History

Ropp book smaller

Paul S. Ropp, research professor of history at Clark University, recently published “China in World History” (Oxford University Press 2010). The book is a compact history of Chinese political, economic, and cultural life, ranging from the origins of civilization in China to the beginning of the 21st century.

“China has experienced 300 years of social change in the span of one generation,” said Ropp. “I try to summarize all of Chinese history, with special attention to China’s relations with the outside world, in 155 pages.”

Unlike ordinary history books, Ropp’s combines vivid story-telling with analysis to answer some of the larger questions of Chinese history, including: what is distinctive about China in comparison with other civilizations, and what have been the major changes and continuities in Chinese life over the past four millennia?

“The book uses actual people so that readers will see history not as a universally agreed upon list of names, dates, and events, but as a dynamic and complex process propelled by the choices of millions of people across hundreds of generations,” said Ropp.

Ropp’s book shows how China's neighbors to the north and west influenced much of the political, military, and even cultural history of China. He also examines Sino-Indian relations, and highlights the impact of the thriving trade between India and China as well as the effect of Indian Buddhism on Chinese life. Finally, Ropp discusses the humiliation of China at the hands of Western powers and Japan, explaining how these recent events have shaped China's quest for wealth, power and respect today, and have colored China's perception of its own place in world history.

The book is available in bookstores and online, priced at $19.95. Ropp has scheduled the following two book signings:

Sunday, Sept. 12; 2-4 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookstores
The Shoppes at Blackstone Valley
70 Worcester Providence Turnpike #5, Millbury
For more information, call: (508) 865-8028

Saturday, Oct. 16
Borders Books; 1 p.m.
476 Boston Turnpike (Route 9), Shrewsbury
For more information, call 508-845-8665

Ropp has taught at Clark since 1985. He served as chair of the History Department for 10 years, and also as Associate Dean and later Dean of the College. In 1989, he received a Japan Foundation Staff Expansion Grant to bring a full-time tenure-track professor of Japanese language and literature to Clark. A few years later, he started the Asian Studies concentration and began offering Chinese language instruction at Clark. In 2006, Ropp was named the Andrea and Peter Klein Distinguished Professor of History.

Ropp teaches courses in Asian history, including Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism in China, modern Asia, Chinese civilization, modern China, modern Japan, Chinese women in literature and society, and the People's Republic of China. He is also affiliated with Clark’s programs in Women's Studies and Asian Studies. His research deals primarily with Chinese social and cultural history in the 17th and 18th centuries. He is author of “Banished Immortal: Searching for Shuangqing, China’s Peasant Woman Poet” (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001).

Next May, Ropp will lead a 12-day tour of China through the Worcester Art Museum. More details are available at

Ropp is a resident of Worcester.