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Stephen R. Platt

Professor of History

Portrait of Stephen R. Platt

platt@history.umass.edu

(413) 545-2785

Herter Hall 636

Stephen R. Platt holds a PhD in Chinese history from Yale University (2004), where his dissertation won the Theron Rockwell Field prize. He is a historian of modern China, specializing in the nineteenth century and China's foreign relations. At UMass, he teaches courses on modern Chinese history from the 17th century to the present day, as well as seminars on US-China relations, comparative nationalism, and the writing of history.

Professor Platt’s newest book is Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age, a history of the origins of the Opium War that will be published in May of 2018 by Alfred A. Knopf. His last book, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom (Knopf, 2012), was a military history of the Taiping Rebellion in global context that won the 2012 Cundill History Prize, the largest international prize for a work of history. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom was also a Washington Post notable book, a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice, a Foreign Policy “favorite read,” and a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award. Platt is also the author of Provincial Patriots: The Hunanese and Modern China  (Harvard University Press, 2007). His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Chinafile, the Atlantic online, the Wall Street Journal, and Late Imperial China, among other venues.

Research Areas

History of Modern China
Chinese foreign relations

Publications

Books:
Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age (Knopf, 2018)
Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom (Knopf, 2012) 
Provincial Patriots: The Hunanese and Modern China  (Harvard University Press, 2007)

Reviews of Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom:
New York Times Book Review
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

Interviews:
Asia Society’s Asia Blog interview
Interview with Maisonneuve Magazine
Podcast interview with New Books on East Asian Studies

Other writings:
Is China Ripe for a Revolution? New York Times op-ed)
A Little Trouble in Big China (New York Times “Disunion” blog)
China’s Long History of Defying the Doomsayers (Atlantic.com)
“The United States of China,” 100 Years Later (ChinaFile)

Courses Recently Taught

  • China in the 19th Century
  • Comparative Nationalism
  • Writing History