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Hoyt Tillman

Hoyt Tillman

Emeritus Professor, Chinese History, School of International Letters and Cultures, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


School of International Letters and Cultures
Arizona State University
PO Box 871202
Tempe, AZ 85287-1202


  • Affiliate Global Futures Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Emeritus Professor, Chinese History, School of International Letters and Cultures, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Hoyt Tillman taught Chinese Cultural History at ASU from 1976 until his retirement in 2019. Tillman's research contributions were recognized with an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Senior Prize (Humboldt-Forschungspreise) in 2000, the first time the Foundation bestowed the prize on someone in Chinese Studies. His research has been also supported by the Fulbright Foundation, the ACLS, NEH, etc. The diverse ways Chinese have historically analyzed issues in response to crises have long captivated Tillman's attention because such questions challenge common assumptions that Chinese approached problem-solving in narrow and unchanging ways. His publications in English, Chinese and Korean also highlight diversity within Chinese culture, even within what is widely regarded as traditional Confucian orthodoxy. For instance, he demonstrates that Zhu Xi (1130-1200), the keystone of that orthodoxy, significantly changed Confucianism through his borrowing from Daoism, Buddhism, and the diverse ideas of his contemporary Confucians. Thus, Tillman explores Chinese ways of thinking and analyzes how Chinese over the centuries continued to remake their traditions and identity in response to contemporary problems and in dialogue with ancient wisdom. Tillman’s courses introduced students to the diversity within Chinese culture by helping students not only to analyze Chinese thinking in modern terms of the humanities and social sciences, but also to begin acquiring ability to view Chinese thinking within its own context and perspectives.

Since becoming emeritus at ASU, Tillman has become a Special Appointed Professor at Hunan University's Yuelu Academy. That academy founded in the late tenth century is China's oldest Confucian academy. He also continues his longterm affiliated researcher relationships with other units in China, especially the Research Center for Ancient Chinese History at Peking University in Beijing and the Guoxueyuan at the Middle China University of Science and Technology in Wuhan. Chinese readers have since the early 1980 been the principal audience for his publications.


  • PhD, History and East Asian Languages, Harvard University, 1976
  • AM, Regional Studies: East Asia, Harvard University, 1970
  • MA, History, Universtiy of Virginia, 1968
  • BA, History, Belhaven College, 1966