The Jinshi Academy in the Late Qing Period: Opportunities and Difficulties in the Transformation of the Emperor's Elite Students

Lin Li

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The Jinshi Academy ??? was founded specially to re-educate the emperor's elite students ????—holders of the highest imperial degree granted through palace examination—in law and politics. Searching for a quick way to implement the New Reform, the late Qing government required the new jinshi to enroll in the Jinshi Academy. This paper reveals that the government had generously invested in the establishment of this academy; that the school had elaborately-formulated regulations; and that its teachers were well-qualified. Moreover, not only were the newly-admitted jinshi not required to pay any fees, they were also entitled to receive considerable stipends. The jinshi, however, were not willing to attend the academy. They were interested in their own political careers and not government efficiency or politics in general, while the Manchu rulers were concerned with political stability, the implementation of the New Reform, and the continuation of governance. This shows how divergent the jinshi idea of "developing the wisdom of government officials" ? ?? was from the late Qing government's. These differences between the government and its officials had an extraordinarily negative effect on the operation of the Jinshi Academy. The late Qing government spared no effort to set up the academy, yet the Manchus never obtained satisfactory results. It should be pointed out that the Jinshi Academy symbolizes an essential transformation of the education of the emperor's elite students, namely, from the Shuchang Academy ??? system focusing on Confucian classics and historiography, to the Jinshi Academy system in which modern legal and political knowledge was highly emphasized. In addition, the Jinshi Academy initiated systematic legal education in modern China. The re-education experiences in the Jinshi Academy provided these traditional cultural elites with a rare opportunity during the social transformation to modern China.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)109-155
    JournalTsing Hua journal of Chinese studies
    Issue number2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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