Rob is a cultural historian and anthropologist with a joint appointment in the anthropology and history departments. He teaches a wide variety of courses on Asian history and cultural theory. He specializes in Song Dynasty China (960-1279) and the flowering of historical writing during that period. He is also interested in early modern cultural and comparative history, as well as cultural theory and research methods. Rob regularly travels to the five “cosmological” mountains in China for ongoing research that combines fieldwork and archival study. He is particularly interested in the way that “ancient” cultural beliefs about numerology, color symbolism, and cosmology remain pervasive and influential in China today (even when choosing license plates and cell phone numbers).
He is currently working on several writing projects, from Chinese management techniques to the history of anthropology. Rob enjoys writing and has published two books. His most recent book, China: New Global Studies (2009) was an introduction to Chinese history and culture written by members of the Beloit College Asian Studies program. Rob reads Chinese (both modern and classical), Japanese, French, and German. He speaks the same languages in what he describes as somewhat decreasing order of fluency. He lived in Tokyo as director of the ACM/Waseda University program in 2002-2003. He was interviewed in 1998 by LIFE magazine for a Great Events of the Millennium article about Genghis Khan. Rob travels frequently and is an avid cyclist. He enjoys opera and country music and lives with his wife in Washington D.C., commuting to Beloit.
Professor at Beloit Since: 1998
Ph.D., Anthropology. 1996. University of Chicago Committee on Social Thought.
M.A., Anthropology. 1992. University of Chicago Committee on Social Thought.
B.A., History and Sociology/Anthropology. 1985. Carleton College.
Rob believes that students need to be widely-read in order to have an informed, broad perspective on historical and contemporary issues. “Learning to read” well is the foundation of all education. Students also need to write often; through the process of writing and rewriting they will often discover what they think. Rob stresses the importance of a solid theoretical background combined with profound intellectual curiosity.
Selected Professional Accomplishments
Millicent C. McIntosh Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, 2006-2008.
Visiting Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities, U-Wisconsin, 2003-2004, 2006-2010.
Visiting Scholar, East-West Center, University of Hawaii, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011.
Visiting Scholar/Resident Director, Japan Study, Waseda University, 2002-2003.
Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce Rotary Club Teaching Award, 2012
James R. Underkofler Excellent in Teaching Award, Beloit College, 2001 and 2011.
Finalist for the American Historical Association's Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, 2010
Charles S. Bassett Distinguished Teaching Award, Colby College, 1998.
Century Fellowship, University of Chicago, 1987-1991.
Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia (Denver: ABC-Clio). Co-authored with András Boros-Kazai. Forthcoming 2012.
“Calendarios y Almanaques” in Gabriel Garciá Nobleias, Introducción a la civilización china. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2011.
“Calendars” and “Festivals” in The Encyclopedia of Modern China New York: Macmillan 2010.
China: New Global Studies. Denver: ABC-Clio, 2009. Main author, editor, and contributor.
“Living and Learning (and Living): Chinese Philosophy and the Liberal Arts” McBride, Tom, ed. Ninety Percent Study and Ninety Percent Experience: Reflections on Liberal Arts Education. Beloit WI: Beloit College Press, 2004: 100-119.
“Missing Work: Factionalism and the Literature of Political Exile in Northern Song China” Waseda Journal of Asian Studies 25 (2004), 19-34.
“Literary Borrowing and Historical Compilation in Medieval China” in Buranen, Lise, and Alice Roy, Perspectives on Intellectual Property and Plagiarism in a Postmodern World. Albany: SUNY Press, 1999: 141-150.
“Direct(ive) Words: Remonstrance as Ethical Imperative in the Global Workforce” Tenth East-West Philosohers’ Conference East West Center, Honolulu. May 2011.
“The Chinese Mirror for Management: The Culture of Imperial Organization in Early China” Hawaii International Conference. January 2009.
“Heaven is Round, Earth is Square: Accounts Linking Mountain and Sea in Early China.” University of Wisconsin, Institute for Research in the Humanities. October 2008.
“Imagined Mountains: Ascents and Reflections Upon China’s Sacred Mountains in Fin de siècle French Ethnography” Hawaii International Conference. January 2008.
“Depraved Destinies: The Historiography of Failure in Early Modern China” Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies. February 2007.
Ongoing archival research in North American, Chinese, and Japanese libraries 1985-present.
China’s “cosmological mountains” 2006-2011 (400 days).
College and Professional Service
Chair, Asian Studies Dept. at Beloit College, WI. (1998-2002, 2004-2011)
Chair, Department of History at Beloit College, WI. (2004-2005, 2009-2011)
President, Phi Beta Kappa (Beloit Chapter) (2008-2011)
Faculty Status and Performance Committee (elected by all-campus colleagues). 2001-2002, 2004-2006.
Referee for over a dozen manuscripts for SUNY Press, Philosophy East and West, Columbia University Press, and Education About Asia.