Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Publication of Legge Biography

Corpus’s James Legge was an important figure in our understanding of Confucianism. He is revered by many in China and (especially) Hong Kong as one of the first Victorians who, through the translation of Mandarin texts, helped to make Chinese culture “respectable” in the eyes of a largely Sinophobic England. It is appropriate that we should be celebrating his life at a time when we are increasingly connecting with the resurgent East - whether it be through our own students from that region, through our investments or where we are seeking new sources of philanthropic support.

Marilyn Bowman has a Masters’ and PhD in Psychology from McGill University. She retired as Prof. Emerita after 30 years at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver Canada. In her academic and clinical work she studied extreme individual differences in cognitive ability and in response to challenging life events, and published related articles and a book. Long interested in the history of China and in the countries of the Silk Road, she has travelled to Asia and Europe with these historical connections.  She became interested in James Legge in 1989, encountering his work in the course of tracking down the history of the Chinese civil service examinations - the world’s first orderly mental ability tests. Her interest in Legge’s life grew from that time, combining her professional interests with her interests in Asian history.  She discovered that Legge’s life in the new colony of Hong Kong was a rich blend of talent and resilience in responding to intrusive personal difficulties in a setting of  political and cultural conflict.  Legge described his interests as  his own “peculiar department”, and Prof. Bowman discovered that Legge's exceptional  talents and productivity in the face of many adversities became her own “peculiar department’. 

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