Dr. Victor Xiong

WMU Professor exploring history of early imperial china

Dr. Victor Cunrui Xiong, Western Michigan University professor of Chinese and East Asian history, is a Chinese medievalist by training recognized internationally for his research and publications focused on Early Imperial China, especially the Sui-Tang period. Xiong joined WMU’s faculty in fall 1989 and served as chair of Asian Studies from 1997 to 2003. He also served as visiting scholar at the University of Iowa, the Northwestern University of China and the Japan Center for the Michigan Universities in Hikone, Japan. He has given lectures at Oxford in England; Harvard, UCLA, Stanford, NYU, University of Michigan, and University of Wisconsin at Madison in the US; and Peking, Tsinghua, Sun Yat-sen, and Xiamen Universities in China. 

The urban, cultural, and socioeconomic history of Early Imperial China, with a focus on the Sui-Tang period, has been the major topic of Xiong’s published research. He has published four books during his tenure at WMU, including, “Sui-Tang Chang’an: A Study in the Urban History of Medieval China,” “Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty: His Life, Times, and Legacy,”  “A Historical Dictionary of Medieval China,” and “Heavenly Khan: A Biography of Emperor Tang Taizong.”       

Of these, the book on Sui-Tang Chang’an is the first and only comprehensive English language study of this most important city in early Imperial China. Based on careful textual and archaeological research, his study gives a sense of why Sui-Tang Chang'an was considered the most spectacular metropolis of its age. “During my most recent visit to China, I was interviewed for a documentary on Chang’an in the “Man-made Wonders” series, called “China’s Forgotten City,” which is a coproduction of Natural History New Zealand and Discovery Channel Asia,” said Dr. Xiong. “The focus of the hour-long documentary is on Chang’an (present-day Xi’an). The documentary was mainly based on my first book, ‘Sui-Tang Chang’an.’” 

The Chinese translation of the book on Emperor Yang has been accepted for publication by Xiamen University Press in China. 

His most recent book “Heavenly Khan” (Airiti Press, 2014) is praised by “San Francisco Review of Books” as “a new historical legend to stand alongside Alexander the Great and Napoleon.”  

In addition, he is working under contract on four other projects including “A Thorough Exploration in Historiography” (an annotated translation of the “Shitong,” the first Chinese book devoted to the subject written in the 8th century), “Capital Cities and Urban Form in Premodern China: Luoyang, 1038 BCE to 938 CE” (forthcoming in 2016), and “The Routledge Handbook of Imperial Chinese History (forthcoming in 2017 or slightly later) of which he is the main editor.   

Xiong studied English and American literature at Peking University before pursuing his research interest in archeology at the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He also attended the University of Maryland where he studied for a master’s in modern Japanese history. In 1989, Xiong received his Ph.D. in Chinese history at the Australian National University. 

Xiong is one of about 30 WMU faculty researchers participating in the China Study Group hosted by the Haenicke Institute for Global Education. The group is comprised of WMU scholars and graduate students focused on China. 

The CSG sponsors conferences, research, teaching initiatives and student activities on a regular basis, and offers assistance and connections to those traveling to and conducting research throughout the Asian/Pacific regions. The CSG commits itself to making fundamental advances in campus knowledge about the Greater China and to providing support in this field. 

Dr. Xiong's webpage

By Julia Valentine