John Berninghausen

Professor Emeritus

John Berninghausen, Professor Emeritus in Chinese language and literature at Middlebury College, took his Ph.D. at Stanford University specializing in modern Chinese Literature.  He began his study written and spoken Chinese (Mandarin) in the 1962 in his home town of Minneapolis while an undergraduate at the U. of Minnesota from which he earned his B.A. with a double major in Spanish and Chinese in 1965. Having spent a total of more than three years studying Chinese language intensively in Taiwan and Hong Kong, he was first able to visit the People’s Republic of China for five weeks in the spring of 1972 during the Cultural Revolution period---just a few weeks after the historic Nixon-Kissinger visit. He came to Vermont in the fall of 1973 to launch a new Chinese language program at the University of Vermont. Three years later he was recruited by Middlebury College to establish a program in Chinese language and literature which quickly took root and grew into a nationally recognized Department of Chinese Language and Literature which he led as founder and department chair for its first 24 years. During the 1980s served as chair of Middlebury’s Foreign Languages Division; he also served for several years as the Dean of the Chinese School, the first chair of the East Asian Studies program and as Acting Director of all the Language Schools and Schools Abroad.  His scholarly publications include editing a book on revolutionary Chinese literature, co-writer of an advanced language textbook on journalistic Chinese, several articles and translations of modern Chinese literature.

Named to a Charles A. Dana Chair in the early 1990s, In 2003 Prof. Berninghausen became the first to hold a newly established chair in Chinese Studies endowed in his honor by former student, Ted Truscott and his wife Kathy O’Connor Truscott which upon his retirement in 2011 became the John D. Berninghausen Chair in Chinese Studies.  In 1987-88 he and his wife, Alice, and their two young children spent a year living in Nanjing China where they first became interested in Chinese ink and color painting. Over the following two decades hey studied and collected ink and color paintings created by classically-trained Chinese artists leading to a significant private collection. Since 2004 he has been a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Public Intellectuals Project in Washington, DC and New York..  As an emeritus professor, he and his wife continue to travel widely, sometimes accompanying Middlebury alumni trips to China.  In this country he continues to give public lectures on the challenges posed by the rise of modern China, recent Chinese History, modern Chinese Ink Painting and other related topics.



Course List: 

Expertise and Research Interests

Chinese fiction of the Twenties and Thirties
Twentieth-century Chinese politics and aesthetic movements Twentieth-century western literary theory and criticism
The history of traditional Chinese ink painting
Twentieth-century classical ink painting

Department of Chinese

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