Professor Zhou Yiliang

Hoyt Tillman(田浩)

From: Hoyt Tillman <> 
Subject: Professor Zhou Yiliang 

Professor Zhou Yiliang 
Asianist Colleagues, 

Sadly, I am reporting news received from a Beida graduate and former Chinese 
grad student living in Beijing three days ago that Professor Zhou Yiliang passed 
away peacefully during his sleep at his home at 
Peking University. Professor Zhou was 89. Especially since his funeral will be 
on Monday 29th in Beijing, some might want to observe a moment of silence and 
reflection on Monday as way of honoring his memory and 
contribution to Chinese historical studies. I had thought that someone 
specializing in the Han through Tang period of Chinese history would write an 
announcement for this list; however, still lacking that announcement from a 
specialist, I wanted to say a few words about this eminent scholar and 

Professor Zhou graduated from Yenching University and then earned his 
Ph.D. from Harvard University during the 1940s. He returned to teach in 
China and became one of the major persons in Beida's History Department. His 
knowledge of Japanese language and Japanese sinology 
was particularly prized by his Beida colleagues. He often participated 
in international symposiums and conferences in China, such as the recent 
"Studies on Tang-Song Women in the Context of Historical Studies" (June, 2001) 
for which he delivered some personal observations at the opening 

Because of his Harvard degree and friendships with major sinologists in 
the West, Professor Zhou was particularly vulnerable to criticism during 
the Cultural Revolution. (Among his first actions was to break to pieces and 
dispose of his drinking glasses with Harvard University symbols; however, he was 
happy to replace the glasses years later when 
he was able to visit Harvard around 1980.) For his "leftist" writings in the 
early 1970s, particularly his article on how Zhuge Liang used people (other 
officials), he was arrested and struggled against for 
about two years after the fall of the Gang of Four, because his article was 
regarded by some as an indirect criticism of Premier Zhou Enlai. He told me 
that after a couple of years of rigorous scrutiny and 
investigation, he was exonerated and declared to be a good person. 
Afterwards, he was allowed to returned to the classroom and continue his 
teaching, a duty that he clearly enjoyed. 

In recent years, he began writing more personal accounts about himself 
and his family. Besides various short articles, he wrote a book in this 
genre, Bijing shi shusheng (In the final analysis, surely a bookish 
intellectual) (Beijing shiyue wenyi [tenth month culture] chubanshe, 

For a list of his earlier publications, see the volume of essays commemorating 
his 80th birthday, Zhou Yiliang xiansheng bashi shengri jinian lunwenji, edited 
by Zhou Shaoliang, Tian Yuqing, and others. 
(Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Press, 1993). 

This is not an attempt to write a eulogy or an account of Professor Zhou's 
scholarship, for that should be done by a specialist in his primary area of 
publications, the history of the Wei-Jin and Northern & 
Southern Dynasties. Although I am inadequate to that task, I did want 
to report this sad news. I am certain many people share my sense of personal 
loss of a significant scholar and noteworthy gentleman. 

Hoyt Tillman (Tian Hao)