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How to remember the Qing Dynasty: The case of Meng Sen

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Chapter Summary

The historiographical fate of the Qing dynasty remained unclear long after its political doom in 1911. Qing history written by individual authors began to appear after 1911 and continued the style of radical revolutionary history that condemned the Manchus and Qing. The situation began to change with Meng Sen, whose work is considered the highest achievement of the first generation of Qing historians. It is commonly agreed among Chinese historians that Meng Sen was the one who established the field of “jindai” (early modern) studies of Qing history. This chapter asks how his kind of professional, or academic, history related itself to official (zhengshi) and unofficial (yeshi) histories. It focuses on Meng’s reactions to the ban on Qingshi gao (Draft History of the Qing), in particular how he argued for a zhengshi status for it, and his extensive work on yeshi through a method he named kaoshi (examination and correction).

Keywords: kaoshi; Meng Sen; Qing dynasty; Qingshi gao; yeshi; zhengshi



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