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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

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Ying-shih Yu selected for Kluge Prize

Ying-shih Yu, Princeton's Gordon Wu '58 Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies, has been named the co-winner of the third John W. Kluge Prize for lifetime achievement in the study of humanity.

The prize rewards accomplishment in the wide range of disciplines not covered by the Nobel prizes, including history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, sociology, religion, criticism in the arts and humanities, and linguistics.

Yu will share the award with John Hope Franklin, professor emeritus of history at Duke University. Each will receive half of the $1 million prize. They will be honored at a ceremony on Dec. 5 at the Library of Congress and will return to the library next year to present a scholarly discussion of their work.

Yu was recognized for playing a pioneering role in bringing previously neglected, major aspects of Chinese history into the mainstream of the scholarship and public consciousness. One of the world's authorities on the Tang Dynasty, he has researched and written extensively on every period of Chinese history, from ancient to modern. He is the author of some 30 books that span more than 2,000 years of history.

"Dr. Yu's scholarship has been remarkably deep and widespread," said Librarian of Congress James Billington, a member of Princeton's class of 1950. "His impact on the study of Chinese history, thought and culture has reached across many disciplines, time periods and issues, examining in a profound way major questions and deeper truths about human nature."

Recipients of the prize, endowed by Library of Congress benefactor John W. Kluge, are selected by Billington in consultation with a panel of distinguished scholars.

Yu joined the Princeton faculty in 1987 and retired in 2001. This fall, he delivered the inaugural address of the Frederick W. Mote Memorial Lecture Series on campus.

During his academic career, which began in 1962, Yu also taught at Harvard, Yale and the University of Michigan. He served concurrently as president of New Asia College, Hong Kong, and vice chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1973 to 1975. In his early 40s, Yu was elected to be a lifetime member in Academia Sinica, the most distinguished academic institution in Taiwan. He was recently elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.

Yu is known not only for his scholarship but also for his sympathy for the democracy movement in mainland China and his support for young refugees who left after the suppression of protesters in Tiananmen Square. Despite his outspoken criticism of Chinese Communist policy, most of his scholarly writings have now been published in China, including a recent 10-volume collection of his Chinese-language works.

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