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Shulman, Doctoral Dissertations on China and on Inner Asia, 1976-1990: An Annotated Bibliography of Studies in Western Languages, 1998

Mariyln Levine reviews the book for H-Asia, February 1999.
January 1, 1998

Frank Joseph Shulman. Doctoral Dissertations on China and on Inner Asia, 1976-1990: An Annotated Bibliography of Studies in Western Languages. Bibliographies and Indices in Asian Studies, No. 2. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Reviewed by: Marilyn A. Levine, Lewis-Clark State College.
Published by: H-Asia (February, 1999)

Doctoral Dissertations on China and Inner Asia

Since World War II there has been a significant rise in students who have enrolled in higher education programs. Yet, the number of doctoral degrees awarded, in terms of the general population, is less than one percent. For young scholars committed to a doctorate program, a graduate education is an interesting period requiring discipline and commitment, especially in Asian Studies where one must learn Asian languages. A graduate student is an apprentice who is acquiring research and writing skills, and polishing the art of building a dissertation. Nurturing graduate students means to have them become, perhaps for the only time in their lives, the most knowledgeable authority on a research topic. They will survey all the literature, conduct necessary research whether it be in patiently accessing material in a library or archive, sweating in the field, seeking out interviews, or conducting surveys. They must then build their work into a coherent whole that is comprehensible and meaningful to their committee. An interesting phenomenon occurs after this process. While some graduates publish their doctoral thesis, usually in a revised form, the disciplined and intellectually significant work of other graduates does not reach a wider audience than their thesis committee. Thus, there is a whole component of our research world that is of great utility that is generally ignored.

The publication of Frank Joseph Shulman's Doctoral Dissertations on China and on Inner Asia, 1976-1990: An Annotated Bibliography of Studies in Western Languages by Greenwood Press brings to light the scope and richness of fifteen years of graduate studies in China and Inner Asia. The book is a meticulously compiled reference work by one of our most eminent bibliographers. In addition, it is the contention of this review that this bibliography is a resource for study and reflection on the past and future state of the fields of China and Inner Asia. The review will examine the organization and scope of the book; explore the utility of Doctoral Dissertations on China and on Inner Asia, 1976-1990; and discuss why the book has broader significance than is apparent from the modest title.

I. The Organization and Scope of the Bibliography

Chinese and Inner Asian studies have grown significantly in the West since the Second World War. Previously, a compilation of dissertations on China had been published in 1972: Doctoral Dissections on China: A Bibliography of Studies in Western Languages, 1945-1970 which was edited by Leonard H. D. Gordon and Frank Joseph Shulman, published for the Association for Asian Studies by the University of Washington Press. Shulman, who was a co-editor of this first important bibliographic compilation, has been one of the most dedicated bibliographers in the entire field, with an annual journal that he edited on the Doctoral Dissertations on Asia for the Association for Asian Studies between 1975 through 1996. He has also published bibliographies and directories in areas such as the Allied Occupation of Japan and the Jews and Jewish communities of Asia.

According to the "Introduction," the bibliography is succinctly described as "comprehensive, multi disciplinary, descriptively annotated, classified, cross-referenced and extensively indexed bibliographical guide to 10,293 dissertations representing work in humanities, social sciences, education, theology, the major professions including architecture and law, and the medical and natural sciences." The information was collected from forty countries and approximately one-half of the theses in the Bibliography have not appeared in Dissections Abstracts International. One of the appendices describes in detail how to obtain the dissertations, and there are two tables in the Appendix that tabulate the distribution of dissertations by country/year, and degree-awarding institution. The work also holds true in its organization to the term "extensively indexed." There are three indices: Author index, Degree-awarding institutions index [arranged by country], and a Subject Index. Each entry has up to fifteen types of data, including an assigned entry number, author name, dissertation title, language if other than English, indication of the thesis summary/abstract when in a language other than English, and an English translation of non-English titles, the degree awarding institution and country, year of degree, type of graduate degree, pagination, bibliographical citations, availability, descriptive annotation of the scope, contents, objective and/or relevance of the thesis, and if pertinent publication information.

Here are a couple of examples:

KAO, Charng. Human Capital Approach to Male-Female Wage Differentials in Taiwan. State University of New York at Binghamton, 1989 (Ph.D. in Economics). xi, 125p. DAI50, no. 4 (Oct. 1989): 1039-A UM *(15775. Finds that "different patterns of lifetime labor force participation are essential in the determination of both male-female and married-single worker wage differentials" in the ROC (Taiwan). Published as Human....Taiwan (Taipei: Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research, 1989, xiii, 123 p. [CHIER economic monograph series, no. 25]).

LARSON, Wendy Ann. Autobiographies of Chinese Writers in the Early Twentieth Century. California (Berkeley), 1984 (Ph.D. in Oriental Languages). 230 p. DAI 46, no. 4 (Oct. 1985): 986-A; UM 8512896. A literary analysis of the writing of autobiographies by several prominent individuals including Kuo Mo-jo (Guo Moruo), Lu Hsun (Lu Xun), Shen Ts'ung-wen (Shen Congwen), and Hu Shih (Hu Shi). Focuses on the "conflict of authorization" behind the composition of their works as these writers sought to break with tradition. Published as Literary Authority and the Modern Chinese Writer: Ambivalence and Autobiography (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991. xii, 208 p.)

Shulman's high professional standards are obvious in the clarity of organization and in the concise descriptions in the annotations. Perhaps the best indication of his bibliographic talent is the cross-referencing throughout the book. New fields such as Women and Gender Studies are cross-referenced in great detail. For example, under the Anthropology and Sociology section, the subsection on Women and Society has an extensive note on cross-referencing that includes topics of related interest such as "Demography: Marital Fertility: Family Planning," "Economic Aspects and Activities" under "Overseas Chinese Communities," and "Women" as a subsection in all the "History of Chinese and the Chinese." In addition to these discrete sub-categories, this one cross-reference cites almost three dozen entries that are not in a discrete category that focus on women, but could pertain to that topic.

II. The Uses of the Bibliography

Looking through the entries in the Bibliography is like entering a treasure lair. Reading through the annotations, one discovers that the value of the dissertations are not only in their utility of original research, but in the theoretical breadth and comparative perspective that is often lacking in the more cautious published monographs. Doctoral Dissertations on China and on Inner Asia, 1976-1990: An Annotated Bibliography of Studies in Western Languages in addition to being a valuable reference tool, has wider uses as a guidebook, a chronicle, a memoir, and a challenge to reflect on the nature of culture and scholarship. To give just a few examples of these areas of utility:

1. It is an easy to use reference if one wants to begin research in an area relevant to China and Inner Asia. One of the principles of social science and historical methodology is to review the literature, not only the dissertations themselves, but their bibliographies and literature surveys are helpful to the research endeavor.

2. For specific teaching purposes, the Bibliography serves as a guidebook to various dissertations that might provide unique insights and knowledge overviews. This is enhanced by a multidisciplinary approach. For example, a study subject often asked about by students is the area of demography and family planning. There are thirty-four dissertations in the subsection on family planning, and many cross-listings. Another area that would be helpful for teaching are the extensive listings about Chinese influence on the West.

3. The Bibliography is a chronicle that allows one to trace the development of fields and subfields in China and Inner Asian graduate studies. For example, the field of Overseas Chinese Communities has 1,073 entries, almost one-tenth of the total dissertations. If asked in a survey of topical areas, how many China scholars would have suspected this area of enormous growth? Likewise, an analysis of this work reveals some other interesting facets of disciplinary development of China and Inner Asia Studies. For instance, there are more listings for Acupuncture (451) than there are for Politics and Government (340) and also for Anthropology and Sociology (259, including Archeology, 298). Social Science dissertations lag behind those in the humanities. History comprises over fifteen percent of the entries (1,508), Literature (585), Religion and Philosophy (646). Three social science areas that do show a proliferation of dissertations are International Relations (858), Economy (832) and Education (736).

4. In addition to chronicling the development of disciplines and topical areas in the field of China and Inner Asia, the Bibliography is very stimulating in terms of potential understanding of culture and scholarship. For example, in the field of Calligraphy dissertations, half of the dissertations are from France, and in the area of Economy-Agriculture: Wheat--all ten of the dissertations are Russian. What aspect of culture and history supports this kind of emphasis in calligraphy (France) and wheat studies (Russia)? Another dimension of the cultural issue would be to conduct an analysis of ethnicity and gender and factors such as discipline and topic selection, institutional affiliation, and later publication history.

These four areas are just a beginning examination of the reference utility of this milestone bibliography. One hopes that Shulman himself will now consider some follow-up analysis on the significance of these dissertations and their categorization in the development of the field of China and Inner Asian Studies.

III. The Significance of the Bibliography

While the Bibliography is a useful reference that has many areas of usage, the publication of this work is relevant to several areas of significance in the current academic world. This concluding section will discuss two such areas, a dialogue on Graduate Education and a dialogue on printed and electronic media and the future of publishing.

As indicated in the last section, the Bibliography is a major foundation resource for understanding graduate education in China and Inner Asian studies during the past fifteen years. As mentioned in the introduction, the period of graduate study is formative to the professional development of an academic career. In an age of instantaneous information, we need to reflect on the significance of the graduate process, especially the preservation of scholarly standards and concern with original, in-depth research. I particularly want to suggest apropos of the ideal of scholarship and the production of scholarly studies--that it is very urgent for us to cultivate patience and foresight in anticipating the role of the academic in the future, their contribution to society and the impact this will have on graduate training. Currently, the American Historical Association newsletter, Perspectives (February, 1999). Perspectives Online has started a column, written by a graduate student, John H. Summers, to express some of these concerns about the training and the future of the graduate student. Summers considers issues such as the ideas and their context, problems of academic labor, and public rhetoric and professional reality. _The Bibliography can serve as a source for helping to assess and consider the issues involved in the training and future of graduates in academe.

A second area of significance that arises from this work is its relationship with electronic media. I found myself wondering about the format of the book with this resource. My conclusion is that it having a book to look through brings to our attention work that a word or phrase search might overlook. But I wondered, will the future form of Doctoral Dissertations be in a CD or DVD format? Currently, the Association for Asian Studies has developed a database that pulls together published articles in Asian studies. Will there be a similar database of dissertation abstracts? Given the multi-year nature of the dissertation process would it make sense to have ongoing thesis research also listed, as well as more extensive publication follow-up information? Could we create networks of research interests, such as the work being done by Lewis Lancaster and the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative, where interactive content databases will be of use to all researchers? Perhaps we will in the near future reach a more harmonious understanding of multimedia, meaning that books, CDs, online databases can all work together to open up new dimensions of scholarship.

I do think we need the books as well as the electronic capability, and the Bibliography is a visceral reminder of all the uses and pleasures of such a work. It perfectly fits the quote by Denham, which indicates the range of this work: "Books should to one of these four ends conduce, For wisdom, piety, delight, or use."

Citation: Marilyn A. Levine . "Review of Frank Joseph Shulman, Doctoral Dissertations on China and on Inner Asia, 1976-1990: An Annotated Bibliography of Studies in Western Languages," H-Asia, H-Net Reviews, February, 1999. URL:

Republished with permission from H-Net Reviews.