Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Harvard University
Globalizing Cicero: Humanist Eloquence in Early Modern European Empires

My dissertation charts the global dissemination and subsequent development of classical rhetoric in various colonial contexts in Asia and the Americas (c. 1550-1820). As a contribution to the nascent field of global intellectual history and the history of the global circulation of knowledge, my dissertation will not treat this phenomenon within the confines of national or regional histories. Instead, it will use the skills of comparative colonial history to build a more holistic picture of the reception and application of Antiquity's most powerful persuasive tool beyond Europe. A particular area of focus in the project will be the uses of classicizing oratory for imperial propaganda in urban contexts like Quito, Manila, Lima and Goa and the institutional uses of oratory in colonial colleges in Asia and the Americas (both British and Iberian), and how these rhetorical tools were re-purposed in the eighteenth century for patriotic and nationalist ends. As classical rhetoric was an important element of the humanist tradition, that predominately Neo-Roman trend in European culture that stressed the cultivation of virtue and eloquence, particularly in Latin, my dissertation is also the first attempt at a global history of humanism. By showing the importance of the tradition of classicizing public speaking to manifestations of an anti-Eurocentric world view, such as the criollo patriotism in Mexico in the 1740s, and the patriotic oratory that commemorated the Boston Massacre and the Fourth of July during the America Revolution, I hope to show the importance and malleability of this tradition on the global stage and over the longue durée. The project will be based on the first census of the surviving classicizing orations, in both print and manuscript, delivered in colonial Asia and the Americas c. 1550-1820, which I will complete during my Fellowship year.