March 22, 2010 Jonathan D. Spence To Present Fourth Kislak Lecture on April 13

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Public Contact: Barbara A. Tenenbaum (202) 707-4298

Historian Jonathan D. Spence, one of the foremost experts on modern China, will deliver the fourth Jay I. Kislak lecture titled "Mapping the Way: The Chinese Quests of Matteo Ricci" at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, in the Coolidge auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, the Hispanic Division and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, the lecture is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required.

In his lecture, Spence will explain the place Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit, made for himself in China and how he encouraged the Chinese to think about knowledge. The map of the world made by Ricci in 1602 is currently on display in the Library’s "Exploring the Early Americas" exhibition, courtesy of the James Ford Bell Trust, before it makes its final home at the University of Minnesota.

Spence holds the position of Sterling Professor of History, Emeritus, at Yale University, and is well-known throughout the world for his insightful views on modern China. His books include “The Search for Modern China” (1990), “China Helpers: Western advisers in China, 1620-1960” (1969), “Death of Woman Wang” (1979) and “Treason by the Book” (2001).

Spence holds 10 honorary degrees, has served as president of the American Historical Association, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has held both a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim, and has received the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George from Queen Elizabeth II.

The fourth Kislak lecture is a component of the Kislak American Studies Program established at the Library of Congress in 2004 by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. Previous lecturers were Jared Diamond, Felipe Fernández-Armesto and Michael Coe.

In addition to the annual lecture series, the Kislak gift includes an important collection of books, manuscripts, historic documents, maps and art of the Americas. It contains some of the earliest records of indigenous peoples in North America, as well as objects from the discovery, contact and colonial periods, especially for the areas of Florida, the Caribbean and Mesoamerica. The Kislak gift also provides for fellowships to study its materials.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at


PR 10-056
ISSN 0731-3527