Daniel Barish, "Learning to Rule: Court Education and the Remaking of the Qing State, 1861-1912" (Columbia UP, 2022)


The late Qing was a time of great turmoil and upheaval but also a time of great possibility, as scholars, officials, the press, and revolutionaries all sought to find ways to shape China’s future. For many, as explored in Daniel Barish’s new book, Learning to Rule: Court Education and the Remaking of the Qing State, 1861-1912 (Columbia UP, 2022), the solution lay not outside the Qing but within it — with the emperor himself.

Learning to Rule explores the education of the final three Qing emperors, looking at how debates about Western learning, foreign language education, the Manchu Way, and constitutionalism played out in the classrooms of the Qing emperors. Not only is this an intimate and deeply human look at the emperor and court life, it also shows just how involved the Qing was in global conversations about the role and education of a monarch, with many drawing on the examples of rulers in Russia and Japan when proposing their own plans for the Qing. Vividly written, this book will be of interest to any readers looking to learn about the late Qing, modern Chinese history, and the history of global empires — as well as those who might be curious about what it was like to try to teach the Son of Heaven.

Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard. She works on Manchu language books and is interested in anything with a kesike. She can be reached at sbramaoramos@g.harvard.edu

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Sarah Bramao-Ramos

Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a Research Assistant Professor at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. She is a cultural historian of Qing China (1644–1911), with a particular interest in Manchu studies. She can be reached at sarahbr@hku.hk
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