Condensed CURRICULUM VITAE: Prof. John G. Blair




Born December 3, 1934, New York, NY, citizen of the USA


  • 1962 Brown University, Ph.D. (English & American Literature)
  • 1957 Columbia University, M.A. (English & American Literature) with honors
  • 1956 Brown University, A.B. summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa (Jr)
  • 1952 Needham (Massachusetts) High School: Class Valedictorian


  • 1970-2000 Professeur Extraordinaire, then Professeur Ordinaire for American Literature & Civilization, University of Geneva, Faculty of Letters, Department of English, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland, Tel 41 22 705 7034; Now Prof. Emeritus.
  • 1962-70 Assistant & Associate Professor of English, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan 48063


  • 2015 to 2019, Visiting Academic, Trinity College Dublin, Asian Studies Centre: Comparing China and the West.
  • Fall 2015: Distinguished Visiting Professor at Peking University, World Literature
  • Spring 2014: lectures on comparative civilization studies at: Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing Normal, University of Electronic Science and Technology, Hunan Normal, Shantou University, Shanghai Normal, Fudan University
  • Fall 2013, Visiting Prof. of Chinese Studies: Perspectives on Chinese Culture, Dublin City University
  • Fall 2012, Visiting Prof. for Comparing Civilizations: China & the West, National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM)
  • Mar-Apr 2012, Visiting Prof. of Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons, BFSU, PRC
  • Feb-Mar 2011, a series of six lectures on China (jointly with Dr Jerusha McCormack) at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin: “Old China, New China  ̶  and Us”
  • Feb-Mar 2010, a series of six lectures on China (jointly with Dr Jerusha McCormack) at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin: “Entering a Chinese World”
  • Fall 2009, Visiting Prof. for Comparing China & the West, St Francis Univ., PA, USA
  • Fall 2007, Visiting Prof. of Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons, BFSU, PRC
  • 2005-06, Visiting Prof. of Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons, BFSU, PRC
  • 2003-04, Visiting Prof. of American Studies & Western Civilization, BFSU, PRC
  • 2001-02, Visiting Prof. of American Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University, PRC
  • 1991-92, Senior Fellow of the Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change, University of Virginia, chaired by Prof. Ralph Cohen
  • Fall 1988, Visiting Prof. of American Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University, PRC
  • 1967-68, Fulbright Professor of American Literature, University of Strasbourg, France


  • Comparing Civilations: China and the West (CCCW) (with Dr Jerusha McCormack), revised fourth edition. Shanghai: Fudan Univeristy Press, 2018.
  • Thinking through China (with Dr Jerusha McCormack) Rowman & Littlefield (USA,) 2015: interpretive study of both civilizationos
  • Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons, (with Dr Jerusha McCormack). A sourcebook of comparative readings: Shanghai: Fudan University Press, first edition 2006;  2nd ed. 2008; 3rd edition, 2010, 622 pages plus 1680 pages in PDF on CD-ROM.
  • Comparing Civilizations: China & the West: A Source Book (with Dr Jerusha McCormack), New York: Global Scholarly Publications, 2013 (604 p + CD-ROM)
  • Modular America: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Emergence of an American Way, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988: Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize for interdisciplinary contributions to the field, conferred by the American Studies Association (USA)
  • The Confidence Man in Modern Fiction, London: Vision Press, 1979.
  • The Poetic Art of W. H. Auden, Princeton University Press, 1965, paper 1966.


  • “Power Versus Values: Structural Tensions in the PRC Today”  (with Jerusha McCormack)  Ethics, Politics abd Law: East and West. ed H.-C. Gunther, Verlag Traugott Bautz GmbH (Nordhausen, Germany), 2018, 85-110.
  • “The Dual Governing System of the People’s Republic of China,” Journal of Public Affairs, 16:2 (2016), 111-117.
  • “Comparing China and the West: Remedies for Cultural Amnesia,” (with Dr Jerusha McCormack), Comparative Studies of China and the West, 1 (Winter 2013), 33-39.
  • “Three Perspectives on 9/11: Entertainment, Politics, Mentality,” in China Views Nine-Eleven: Essays in Transnational American Studies, eds. Priscilla Roberts, Mei Renyi, & Yan Xunhua, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011, 402-421 (in English).
  • “Three Perspectives on 9/11: Entertainment, Politics, Mentality,” Changes and Continuities: the United States after 9.11, ed. Mei Renyi & Fu Meirong, Beijing: World Affairs Press, 2009, 415-425 (in Chinese).
  • “Comparing China and the West: Who Is Ready for the Challenge,” (with Dr Jerusha McCormack), ASIANetwork Exchange, 16 (Fall, 2008), 48-56.
  • “Liberal Education at BFSU: A Pioneering Project,” (with Dr Jerusha McCormack), in English Education and Liberal Education, ed. Sun Youzhong et al, Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2008, 262-277.
  • “’Feeling the Pulse’ in the Chinese and Western Medical Traditions: The Importance of Qièmai (切脉) as a Diagnostic Technique,” (with Dr Jerusha McCormack) in Thieme Almanac 2008: Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, ed. Michael McCarthy et al. (Stuttgart: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2008), 331-338.
  • “Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth: Its Special Challenge to Chinese Environmentalists,” Friends of Nature Newsletter (Beijing), 12 (Winter 2007), 26-28.
  •  “China and the West: A Fresh Strategy against Provincialism,” (with Dr Jerusha McCormack), Education about Asia 12:3 (Winter, 2007), 63-68.
  •  “Against American Exceptionalism: Post-Colonial Perspectives on Irish Immigration,” in American Foundational Myths, ed. Martin Heusser & Gudrun Grabher (Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 2002), 15-28.
  • “Agon: Disciplinary Imperialism in the Intellectual Life of the Western World,” in Culture Agonistes: Debating Culture, Rereading Texts, ed. Theodore Tsimpouki & Angeliki Spiropoulou (Bern: Peter Lang, 2002), 97-111.
  • “Thinking Through Binaries: Conceptual Strategies for Interdependence,” American Studies International 28 (2000), 23-38.
  •  “First Steps toward Globalization: 19th-century Exports of American Entertainment Forms,” in ‘Here, There and Everywhere’: The Foreign Politics of American Popular Culture, ed. Reinhold Wagnleitner & Elaine May, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000, 1-33.
  •  “Navigating Globally: A Guidance System Called Comparative Culture Studies,” in The Global Village: Dead or Alive? ed. Ray B. Browne & Marshall Fishwick. Bowling Green, OH: BGSU Press, 1999, 134-145.
  • “Asian American Writing as Culture Studies: The Difference that Distance Makes,” Hitting Critical Mass, 4 (Fall 1997), 27-38.
  • “Imagining a Habitable Imperium, Facing West: The Cultural Work of Ante-bellum Stage Entertainments,” in Empire, ed. J. Blair & R. Wagnleitner, SPELL 10, Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1997, 61-79.
  • “Blackface Stereotypes in American Culture,” in An American Mosaic: Rethinking American Culture Studies, ed. Marshall Fishwick. New York: American Heritage, 1996, 151-165.
  • “The Cultural Work of Religion in Cold War America,” in Anti-Communism and McCarthyism in the United States (1946-1954), ed André Kaenel (Paris: Editions Messene, 1995), 109-122.
  • “Change and Cultures: Reality Presumptions in China and the West,” New Literary History, (1993), 927-945.
  • “Intellectual Trade Imbalances: What Teaching American Studies in China Brought Home to Me,” in Exporting America: Essays On American Studies Abroad, ed. Richard Horwitz, (New York: Garland, 1993), 263‑285.
  • “Guan yü qua wen hua fen si de ji dian kan fa,” [Some pointers about cross-cultural analysis], in Ba shi nian dai de xi fang shi xue [Western Historical Studies in the 1980s], (Beijing: History and Theory Series, 1990), 240-255 (in Mandarin).
  • “Blackface Minstrels in Cross‑Cultural Perspective,” American Studies International 28 (1990), 52‑65.
  • “China and Democracy,” Raritan 9 (1990), 78‑98.
  • “Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull: The Wild West as a Media Event,” in The American West As Seen by Europeans and Americans, ed. R. Kroes (Amsterdam: Free University Press, 1989), 262‑281.
  • Multum in parvo: Moby‑Dick, the Swiss Army Knife and the Poetics of Infinity,” in The Structure of Texts, ed. Udo Fries, (Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1987), 209‑220.
  • “Cowboys, Europe and Smoke: Marlboro in the Saddle,” Revue française d’études américaines, No. 24/25 (May 1985), 195‑212. Reprinted with 1989 plus Postscript.
  • “‘What’s American About America’: A Structuralist Approach,” Prospects: An Annual of American Culture Studies, ed. J. Salzman, 5 (NY: Burt Franklin, 1980), 1-16.
  • “Structuralism, American Studies and the Humanities,” American Quarterly, 30 (1978), 261‑281.
  • “Thoreau on Katahdin,” (with Augustus Trowbridge) American Quarterly, l2 (1960), 508‑517.


From my personal perspective the working life represented in this C.V. resumes four careers. During the 1960s, I worked in the USA following Brown University doctoral studies teaching classic American literary texts as epitomizing “American culture.”

My second career brought me to Europe in 1970, specifically to the French-speaking University of Geneva with professorial responsibility for American Literature and Civilization. My focus on American Studies was broad, concentrating on trans-Atlantic comparisons and contrasts. That career culminated in the book entitled Modular America: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Emergence of an American Way (1988), which shows how original rules of organization brought from Europe were displaced by American modular innovations. In 1987 this work won the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize of the American Studies Association for interdisciplinary contributions, the first book based outside the USA to be so recognized.

My third career began in the fall of 1988 while teaching at Beijing Foreign Studies University. The dramatically different culture and mindset represented by China transformed my world. Everything I thought I had learned about “culture(s)” out of my Europe/USA comparisons had to be rethought in a much larger frame.

After retirement from UNIGE, I returned to Beijing in 2001 to bring broad-ranging document-driven American Culture Studies to graduate students. Many Western cultural presumptions cannot be taken for granted in China, even among the most receptive students. These differences in worldview focused on the deepest level of culture – a civilizational level – whence my fourth career.

In January 2002 I agreed with the BFSU English Department to prepare a new type of course which would directly engage Chinese graduate students in comparing Western with Chinese Civilization. Today’s students in China want to understand the West, but, having had little chance to study their own cultural heritage, they find it hard to situate Western ideas in relation to quite different Chinese presumptions. Dr. Jerusha McCormack, after retiring from University College, Dublin, joined this project in 2004, serving as co-author and innovator. Since 2007 she has shared in all teaching and lecturing.

WCwCC (WESTERN CIVILIZATION WITH CHINESE COMPARISONS) was first published in an innovative format by Fudan University Press in Shanghai in May 2006. A short book of 150 pages of introductory materials contained a CD-ROM of 1067 pages, the basis of a year-long course. A second corrected edition appeared in 2008. The third much revised edition organized as a one-semester college-level course came in 2010 (622 pages in print recapitulated and augmented in 1680 pages in PDF on CD-ROM). The fourth edition is under preparation for publication in 2015. It will complete the process of treating both civilizations on an equal footing. An English translation is due out in 2015. The course under this title has been obligatory for all beginning graduate students in English at BFSU since 2003. It is taught by Chinese colleagues in our absence.

In 2009, we began re-orienting these comparative materials for introducing Chinese Civilization to interested Westerners while helping them understand better their own cultural origins. Our primary goal is to improve mutual understanding in the interests of cooperation necessary to cope with present-day problems, most particularly the climate crisis. In 2013 the reedited American edition of our sourcebook was published in New York by Global Scholarly Publications under the title COMPARING CIVILIZATIONS: CHINA AND THE WEST.

Starting in 2012 comparative studies received a boost from the formation of the International Association for Comparative Studies of China and the West (IACSCW), for which I serve as Co-President for the West, paired with Prof Gu Zhengkun of Peking University as Co-President for China. The first conference on such comparative studies was held at PKU in July 2013. The first issue of our journal entitled Comparative Studies of China and the West appeared in 2014. The interest and support attracted by this Association make it clear that many academics both in China and the West see such studies as a significant direction for the future. We expect the Association to grow as time goes on.