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Introduction: Looking Back at Yenching

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Yenching’s closure in 1952 once served as evidence of its ultimate failure, but China’s commitment to modernization in the years after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 alters our perspectives. Was the closure of Yenching the result of external factors beyond its control or of internal contradictions and flaws in the university? Did an imperfect strategy make failure inevitable or did the problem stem from inadequate implementation? One consequence of this reappraisal has been an analytic shift away from politically oriented narratives highlighting clashes between Chinese nationalism and Christian universities, student movements, and American efforts to transform China. Instead, attention has shifted to religious, cultural, and educational adaptations as representative of broader trends in globalization and modernization.


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