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February 15 Faculty Research Forum to explore 19th-century Western threats to other governments

ISSUED: 31 January 2023

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WVShepherd University Professor of History Dr. David B. Gordon will be featured at an upcoming Faculty Research Forum on Wednesday, February 15, from noon-1 p.m. in the Frank Arts Center C.W. Shipley Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public. 

Gordon, whose teaching focuses on Asian history, spent a recent sabbatical researching the late 19th-century perception by East European Jews and the Japanese that their forms of government were under threat from Western governments.  

Gordon will explore the mixed atmosphere of the time by examining two satirical works: Japanese democratic activist Nakae Chomin’s “A Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government” (1887) and foundational Yiddish novelist Sholem Abramovitch’s “The Mare” (1873). Each story has an idealist who other characters criticize. Each also has a cynic—an ultranationalist and a devil, respectively—who is shown to be both wisely realistic and foolishly vicious.  

“By reading these works carefully, we gain a new appreciation for the hard choices that people around the world faced as the West rose to a position of dominance,” Gordon said. 

Gordon earned his Ph.D. in modern Japanese intellectual history at the University of Hawaii and is now in his 23rd year teaching at Shepherd. In addition to publishing a biography of the Chinese revolutionary Sun Yatsen, he has composed several biographical essays for “Education About Asia,” a journal for educators seeking to increase Asia-related content in their courses.   

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