If you’re an H-Asia reader, you already saw this, but if you’re not, it’s an interesting look at the 20th century history of Asian literary studies in the US. James Robert Hightower has passed away, after an incredible career in Chinese literary studies and government service.
For those of us in Chinese studies who knew and studied with him, the news of Professor Hightower’s passing is most saddening. Professor Hightower was an extremely demanding teacher, and one had to be “on his toes” in his courses in Classical Chinese, but he was most of all a soft-spoken, gentle, and humane individual. One could only benefit from the refinements he brought to one’s understanding of the subtleties in Chinese literature and the patience he brought to his work with students. I owe him a special debt for recommending me to the late Homes Welch for an assistantship: this launched a thirty-five year teaching career. He shall be in my thoughts, always, as a model teacher, scholar, and human being.
Dr. Hightower greeted me with cucumbers and carrots from his garden, and homemade hummus.
He was such an inspiration. I don’t feel that I can do him any justice by talking about
him. He was far greater than words. He paid attention to both the small and the large of life.