My Humanities Moment was when I first read David Christian’s Maps of Time during my 2nd year of grad school. It made me interested in some of the big questions that I have never thought are important and compelled me to converse about these topics with others and to converse with them well. There are two major academic challenges that I faced which were what makes humanities education meaningful? How can I attract an audience to listen to my expertise?

The book helped me overcome these two challenges by convincing me that whatever disciplines we work on, it always boils down to the fundamental big questions that are of concern to us all. It teaches me how to use metaphor and how to reach out to a wider audience. As a scholar of Chinese history, I always thought that only historians (indeed only Chinese historians) will ever be interested in what I have to say. But this book changed my mindset and made me realize that I was the one who was locking up the door not my audience.

It is up to us as humanities scholars to demonstrate why any knowledge or skills passed down are worth learning about. I was overwhelmed by the ability of the author to do interdisciplinary research. It is true that in his discussion of the origin of the universe and humanity, Christian is not an expert in math, science, geology, history, anthropology, etc. But what is valuable and worth keeping in mind is that this is the right approach to do humanities research because the questions come first and our ego and pride come last.

– Jiajun Zou (Graduate Student)