Guo Shiyou

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Guo Shiyou
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Born1957 (age 66–67)
  • BA
  • PhD
Alma mater
  • Hunan Normal University
  • Hangzhou University
  • Professor
  • Historian

Guo Shiyou (Chinese: 郭世佑) is a professor of history known for his work on modern Chinese history and legal history. He is a distinguished professor and Director of History Institute at Tongji University, a senior visiting professor at China University of Political Science and Law and Yuelu Academy of Hunan University, an overseas senior research fellow at the Modern China Research Center of Hong Kong Baptist University, and a senior visiting professor at Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Guo is one of the first Chinese academic researchers to trace the history of the Chinese revolution to its source and examine its implications and development. His work points out the flaws of the authoritative interpretation of the revolution, especially in its emphasis of warring oppositions, its utilitarianism in deriving the process based on outcomes, and the one-sided view given in history textbooks discounting the complexity of history. Guo consistently pursues accuracy of concepts and logical consistency, and aims to uncover the inherent connection between history and presence. He advocates six principles of history study: 1) data over conclusion; 2) factual judgment over value judgment; 3) process over outcome; 4) evidence over argument; 5) multiple perspectives over single viewpoint;6)mentality over position.

Education and career

Guo received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Hunan Normal University in 1982, and his PhD in history from Hangzhou University in 1997. His B.A. thesis won the First Conference of Hunan College Student Research Paper Award.

From 1997 to 2003 Guo directed the doctoral program in history in Zhejiang University and was a leading scholar in history in the Humanities and Social Sciences academic planning committee of Zhejiang province.

From 2003 to 2012 he served as Director of History Institute and Associate Director of Liberal Education Committee in China University of Political Science and Law. After that he joined Tongji University.

Guo was voted twice as “Top 10 Teacher” by students in China University of Political Science and Law (中国政法大学).

Guo is also a public speaker on multiple subjects including historical method, philosophy of history, and education. He has given hundreds of speeches in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, the United States, Japan, and other countries and regions. As the head coach of the debating team, he helped to place China University of Political Science and Law in the top three of international college debate tournaments.[1]

Honors and academic accomplishments


Guo‘s book New Theory on the Political Revolution in the Late Qing Dynasty (晚清政治革命新论), published in 1997 by Hunan People’s Press, with a new edition published in 2010 in the collection Contemporary Humanities by Chinese People’s University Press, has won:

  • First Prize of Zhejiang University(浙江大学) Dong Jianhua Foundation for Literature, History, and Philosophy (1998)
  • Excellency in Academic Work of People’s Press sponsored by five provinces in South China (1998)
  • First Prize of Philosophy and Social Science Excellency awarded by Zhejiang Provincial Government (2002)
  • “Outstanding Young Scholar” by Zhejiang Provincial Government (2004)

In History Research, the prestigious academic journal on Chinese history,[2] the book was hailed as “an outstanding contribution to the research of late Qing dynasty political revolution due to its inclusion of both Constitutionalists aspiring for capitalist democracy led by Sun Yat-sen and the advocates of constitutional monarchy led by Liang Qichao(梁启超)and Zhang Jian(张謇)in the broad context of late Qing dynasty political revolution. Guo’s new theory transcended the tangled academic debate in the recent years about the merits and faults of Constitutionalists and constructed a new framework of late Qing dynasty political revolution research.” [3]

In another review of the book, also in History Research, historian Chen Tie-jian pointed out that Guo questioned the concept of revolution that in Chinese scholarship had been defined as violent class struggle rather than fundamental social and economic changes. Basing his research on thorough examination of abundant historical data and in-depth research and thinking, Guo challenged the established theories and offered his refreshing and convincing analysis of the political revolution in the late Qing dynasty. [4]

Guo is a leading scholar in modern Chinese history. His works are frequently cited in major academic publications. In History of Modern China, a New Edition by Beijing and Taiwan, the author referenced Guo's essay in Break Through:Early scholarship in China’s modernization and credited him with pioneering in studying China’s early effort of westernization using modernized view and “achieving broad agreement on the narrative of the movement.” [5]


Guo’s collection of essays Ups and Downs in Search of Truth of Modern History (记问沉浮:近代史的求真之旅)is a rare work that enlightens and stimulates by resolving several puzzles in modern Chinese history, questioning established scholarship on “Constitutional Reform” and “Restoration of Monarchy” in early 20th century. Guo’s pursuit of truth goes beyond history research. He criticized the impact of neoliberalism, bureaucracy, and utilitarianism in higher education in China.

Liu Jilin, a professor in sociology at Nankai University, commented on the collection, “There’s a saying ‘Ignorance leads to fearlessness’. Here, we see ‘Truthfulness leads to fearless’.” Guo’s courage and truthfulness stands out among “intellection elites who are losing their identity swept away by materialism and marketization.”[6]


Guo’s book Ideas and Speeches (思与言), a collection of public speeches he made in China and US, was published in Hong Kong in 2019 and won rave reviews. Xu Yi-qing (徐轶青), an associate professor in Political Science at Stanford, recollects his attendance to Guo’s speech at Harvard Xinhai Revolution Forum in 2011, “Guo’s solid research, deep insights, eloquence and humor were impressive.” [7]

He Weifang (贺卫方),a top Law professor at Beijing University, also an accomplished public speaker, remembers the vivid interaction between Guo and his audience in his numerous speeches, “A quality academic speeches requires refreshing ideas, knowledge and rhetorical charm and allows room for reflection. It was like an orchestra performance, an exploration with a tightly-knit team.” [8]

Yuan Nansheng (袁南生),the former Consul General in Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco, executive VP of the Chinese Society of International Law, composed a traditional Chinese 7-line poem to commemorate the publication of Guo’s Ideas and Speeches: “Frozen earth yelling for spring, truthful words spread through the land.” [9]

Guo never writes down his speech, not even an outline before his speaking engagement. His spontaneity, sincerity, interaction with audience, and wisdom left such an impression on one of his fan, Ding Kai(丁凯) , a student of Guo in Zhejiang University in late 90s that today he is still gushing about how he and his fellow students were inspired by Guo’s speech tour in the university’s 5 campuses. [10]

Collections edited

He was the editor-in-chief of two series of books, the first collection by Staff of China University of Political Science and Law, and the second collection by Hunan scholars. In 2018, he took an ambitious endeavor to edit a collection of essays written by 27 fellow alumina from Hunan Normal University in China, who work and live in the US and Canada, to write about their fathers as a commemorative publication for the school’s 80th year Homecoming. The collection is on the “Recommended Booklist for Nationwide Secondary Education School libraries. [11]

List of works

  • Guo, Shiyou, New Theory on the Political Revolution in the Late Qing Dynasty (First edition, Hunan: Hunan People’s Press,1997. ISBN 7-5438-1573-7). (Second edition, Beijing: Chinese People's University Press,2010. ISBN 978-7-300-11808-6).《晚清政治革命新论》,第一版,湖南,湖南人民出版社,1997。 第二版,北京,中国人民大学出版社,2010。
  • Guo, Shiyou, History and Law as Source and Stream (Beijing: China University of Political Science and Law Press, 2007. ISBN 978-7-5620-3097-3). 《史源法流》,北京,中国政法大学出版社,2007。
  • Guo, Shiyou, History isn’t a Damsel (Xiangtan: Xiangtan University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-7-81128-047-0). 《历史不是小姑娘》,湘潭:湘潭大学出版社,2008。
  • Guo, Shiyou et al, The Journey of Awakening of a Nation in the series of History of Chinese People’s Endeavor in the Past One Hundred Years, ed. Yi Dai and Bingqing Li (Jinan: Shandong Educational Press, 1999. ISBN 7-5328-2642-2). 《民族觉醒的历程》《中国人民百年奋斗史丛书》,戴逸,李炳清主编,济南,山东教育出版社,1999。
  • Guo, Shiyou et al, Breaking Through: Early Modernization Effort in China (Kaifeng: Henan University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-7-81091-994-4). 《突破重围——中国早期现代化研究》,开封,河南大学出版社,2009。
  • Guo, Shiyou, Ups and Downs in Search of Truth of Modern History (Beijing: Beijing Normal University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-7-303-11949-3). 《记问沉浮:近代史的求真之旅》,北京,北京师范大学出版社,2011。
  • Guo, Shiyou, The Misconstrued History (Beijing:Sanlian Bookstore, 2014. ISBN 978-7-108-04798-4). 《历史的误读》,北京,生活·读书·新知三联书店,2014。
  • Guo, Shiyou, Ideas and Words: Shiyou Guo Speeches (Hongkong: Wen Yuan Press Limited, 2019. ISBN 978-988-19672-7-5). 《思与言——郭世佑演讲集》,香港,文源出版社有限公司,2019。
  • Guo, Shiyou et al, Silhouette across Times: Our Fathers, stories as told by North American Alumni of Huanan Normal University in China,ed. Shiyou Guo (Changsha: Hunan Normal University Press,2018. ISBN 978-7-5648-3401-2). 《故园的背影——湖南师范大学北美校友笔下的父亲》,长沙:湖南师范大学出版社,2018。


  1. Li(李), Qing-ying(庆英). "History Research Must Not be Winner's Propaganda(历史研究不应充当胜利者的宣传)". No. February 18, 2008. Beijing Daily (北京日报).
  2. "History Research(Chinese Academy of Social Science Journal)". Baidu Baike(百度百科. Baidu. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  3. Bao (宝), Cheng-guan (成关); Tian (田), Yi-peng (毅鹏) (1999). "Shi-you Guo's New Theory on the Political Revolution in the Late Qing Dynasty (郭世佑著'晚清政治革命新论')". History Research (3).
  4. Chen (陈), Tie-jian (铁健) (1999). "Refreshing Theory on the Political Revolution in the Late Qing Dynasty(出新的'晚清政治革命新论')". History Research (1).
  5. Dai(戴), An-gang(鞍钢) (2016). History of Modern China, a New Edition by Beijing and Taiwan. Beijing: Beijing,Social Science Literature Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-7-5097-8451-8.
  6. Liu(刘), Ji-lin(集林). "Aspiring for truth: Ups and Downs in Search of Truth of Modern History". Liberal Arts Viewpoints (文景). No.75 (May 5, 2011): 20–24.
  7. Xu(徐), Yi-qing(轶青). "Responsibilities of academics: Professor Shiyou Guo's collection of public speeches (学者的责任——读郭世佑教授演讲集有感)". Asia Pacific Daily 亚太日报. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  8. He (贺), Wei-fang(卫方). "Inspiring and Mesmerizing:Professor Guo's Ideas and Speeches (郭世佑教授《思与言》勾魂语)". Asia Pacific Daily 亚太日报. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  9. Yuan(袁), Nan-sheng(南生). "On Publication of Shiyou's Speeches". Asia Pacific Daily 亚太日报. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  10. Din(丁), Kai(凯). "Words that Make Us Think (可以留下"思"的"言")". Guangzhou Evening News (羊城晚报).
  11. "Education Department Publishes 2019 Recommended Booklist for Nationwide Secondary Education School Libraries". Sinobook. Chinese Higher Education Textbooks(中国高校教材图书网). Retrieved 14 June 2020.

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