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Whitworth history professor receives prestigious grant to conduct research in China

July 19, 2012

As research grants in the humanities become scarcer and more fiercely competitive, Anthony E. Clark, an associate professor of history at Whitworth, has been selected as one of seven scholars worldwide to receive one of the highest honors in his field. Last May, Clark was recognized with the 2012-13 National Endowment for the Humanities/American Council of Learned Societies Grant.

“I am honored and grateful to have received this support so I can consult important archives in northern China and complete my current book project on Sino-missionary relations in Shanxi,” says Clark. “This grant will allow me to add Whitworth’s name to the byline of resulting publications and will, I hope, attract more attention to the intellectual merits of our scholars and students.”

Through the grant, Clark will conduct research at the famous Sino-Western Library at The Beijing Center, located at the University of International Business and Economics. While there he will consult Chinese archives to help finish a draft of his monograph, Friars, Fairies, and the War of Immortals: China’s Heavenly Battle on the Earthly Plains of Shanxi. The book brings to light the personal lives of several European Franciscan and Chinese women at Shanxi on the eve of the July 9, 1900, “Taiyuan Incident.”

In addition to allowing Clark to conduct research, the grant will fund his travel to other areas in China, where he will gather information about missionary activities during the late-Qing dynasty, at the end of the 19th century. He will also give invited lectures on his work at scholarly meetings in the cities of Hangzhou and Hong Kong.

Clark says he is committed to the liberal arts ideal that scholarly research serves the larger academic community while also improving one’s teaching.

“As more and more of Whitworth’s students are applying to graduate schools, demonstrating an active scholarly itinerary helps us professors to advise our students more effectively and to provide the example students need to be successful as they continue their academic lives and seek eventual employment,” he says. “Many students wish to become scholars themselves, and they are happy to see that Whitworth is a place where they can learn from professors who maintain active research schedules.”

Clark says Whitworth has generously encouraged and supported his scholarly work in China. Through a Weyerhaeuser Grant and a Jan Term sabbatical, he was able to consult archival collections in Rome, Beijing, and Taipei, Taiwan. He adds that because his work centers on the history of Christian missions in China and also seeks to add to Whitworth’s central mission, his colleagues and students have been supportive and helpful.

“When I announced to my classes that I had received an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, my students applauded,” he says. “Many approached me and noted how much they appreciate knowing that their professors are actively publishing and establishing Whitworth’s reputation as an institution of Christians who are engaged and successful scholars.”

Aside from his role as an associate professor, Clark serves as director of Whitworth’s Asian Studies Program. He also established the semester-long Whitworth in China Program, which launched last fall. Last August, Clark hosted “The Saints of China: Martyrs of the Middle Kingdom,” a 13-episode TV series on Chinese Catholic martyrs.

Clark is the author of Ban Gu's History of Early China (Cambria Press, 2008), editor of Beating Devils and Burning Their Books: Representations of China, Japan, and the West (University of Michigan/AAS Press, 2010), and author of China's Saints: Catholic Martyrdom during the Qing (1644-1911) (Lehigh University Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2011). He has completed a second edited volume entitled, A Voluntary Exile: Chinese Christianity and Cultural Conversion from 1552-Present, which is under consideration at press, and is currently working on his new book, Friars, Fairies, and the War of Immortals: China’s Heavenly Battle on the Earthly Plains of Shanxi.

Clark, who joined the Whitworth faculty in 2009, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, where he also earned his bachelor's degree. He has also pursued language, historical literature and cultural studies at the Central University for Nationalities, in Beijing; the Alliance Fran├žaise, in Paris; and the National Taiwan Normal University and the Taipei Language Institute, both in Taipei, Taiwan.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Anthony E. Clark, associate professor of history, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4368 or

Andrea Idso, interim public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or