China and Inner Asia
Since the late 1990s, scholars in the U.S. and beyond have recognized the importance of Manchu sources for the study of Qing history and culture, and the field of Manchu studies has thus gained broader interest and visibility. Yet, access to language training and good teaching materials has remained an obstacle for many, as Manchu is not regularly offered outside a handful of institutions, and volunteer teaching is poorly incentivized and carries few career benefits.
This roundtable session is dedicated to honoring Dr. Gertraude Roth Li, whose Manchu: A Textbook for Reading Documents (National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2001; revised ed 2010), remains the only mainstream Manchu textbook in English. Many younger Manjurists have relied on this book to study the language, but know little about the author herself. As a pioneering scholar of early Qing history, Dr. Roth Li first took Manchu at Harvard in 1969, contributed a key chapter to the Cambridge History as one of few women authors in that series, and taught Manchu at Hawai’i and UC Berkeley in 1998. The second half of her long career at the University of Hawai’i was dedicated to administrative work toward cross-cultural exchange. This roundtable will highlight her contribution to the field and also open new discussions on how Manchu pedagogy might develop further in the 21st century, with important implications for the teaching of other minority languages of China.
Mark Elliott will reflect on both Dr. Roth Li’s career and his own program-building work at Harvard. Loretta Kim will share her experience teaching Manchu in both English and Chinese, training students to write and to read. Chia Ning will recall her summer intensive study with Dr. Roth Li and share her thought on Manchu pedagogy. Kicengge will discuss Manchu pedagogy in Japan and his efforts to create an online community for Sibe speakers during the pandemic. Lin Shih-Hsuan will report on his own teaching and the growing Manchu studies community in Taiwan. David Porter will share his recent work for the Manchu Studies Group and thoughts on the present and future development of online teaching resources.