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Thomas Wilson


Thomas Wilson
Thomas Wilson

Elizabeth J. McCormack Professor of History

On leave 2017-18
Kirner-Johnson 140
315-859-4236

Thomas Wilson has written extensively about Confucian ritual and the cult of Confucius and is president of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions. He conducted research in Taiwan and the People's Republic of China on Fulbright-Hays grants in 1992-93. Wilson also received National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships in 1999-2000 and 2006-07. He has been a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, N.J. He earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago. Wilson studied Chinese at the Stanford Center and Chinese history in the Graduate Department of History at National Taiwan University.

Recent Courses Taught

Exploring Culture in the Great Cities of Asia
Emperor, Gentryman, and Commoner in Ming-Qing China
Modernity and Nationhood in China
Laozi and Confucius in History
Foucault and History
Confucian Traditions
History of Gods

Selected Publications

  • “Spirits and the Soul in Confucian Ritual Discourse," Journal of Chinese Religions 42 (November 2014) 2: 185-212.
  • “Reading the Analects in the Sage’s Courtyard: A Modern Diner’s Guide to an Ancient Feast,” The Analects: A Norton Critical Edition, edited by Michael Nylan (Norton, 2014).
  • “Sacrifices to Confucius and Confucian ritual thought,” Collection of Western scholarship on Chinese history (Shanghai Classics Publishing House).
  • 2012 (translation by Zhang Cong of revised version of “Culture, Society, Politics, and the Cult of Confucius,” in On Sacred Grounds.
  • Lives of Confucius, co-authored with Michael Nylan (Doubleday, 2010), Chinese translation under review by the Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.
  • “Confucianism: The Imperial Cult,” Encyclopedia of Religion 2nd Edition (Macmillan Reference, 2004), 3: 1910-1916.
More... Less...
  • On Sacred Grounds: Culture, Society, Politics, and the Formation of the Cult of Confucius, Thomas A. Wilson, ed. (Institute for East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 2003).
  • “Ritualizing Confucius/Kongzi: The Family and State Cults of the Sage of Culture in Imperial China,” in Thomas A. Wilson, ed., On Sacred Grounds: Culture, Society, Politics, and the Formation of the Cult of Confucius (Institute for East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 2003), 43-94.
  • “Culture, Society, Politics, and the Cult of Confucius,” in Wilson, ed., On Sacred Grounds, 1-40.
  • “Sacrifice and the Imperial Cult of Confucius,” History of Religions 41 (Feb. 2002) 3: 251-87.
  • “Temple of Confucius,” “Sacrifice to Confucius,” etc. (38 entries, approximately 12,500 words) Encyclopaedia of Confucianism (Routledge/Curzon Press, 2003).

College Service

  • Chair, Committee on Academic Policy, 2011-12, 2013-14
  • Member, Committee on Academic Policy, 2011-14
  • Director, Asian Studies, 1996-98, 2000-03, 2010-13
  • Chair, Department of History, 2005-09
  • Principal investigator, Freeman Foundation Grant initiatives, 2001-05
  • Member, Committee on Academic Policy, 2000-01
  • Chair, Committee on Academic Policy subcommittee on Hamilton’s curricular mission, 1996-97
  • Faculty advisor, Asian Cultural Society, 1994-96; 1998-99
  • Member, Academic Council, 1991-92

Professional Affiliations

East Asian Associates in Research, Cornell University
Association of Asian Studies
American Academy of Religion
ASIANetwork
American Historical Association

Appointed to the Faculty: 1989

Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Chicago
M.A., University of Chicago
B.A., University of Connecticut, Storrs

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