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PKU's hidden corners: The study room of Zhu Qingsheng

OCT . 27 2020
Peking University, October 27, 2020: Hidden among the beautiful and traditional architecture of Peking University lies humble-looking corners filled with precious and pleasant riches of knowledge, enveloped with row after row of neatly lined up books towering towards the tall ceiling.

These mysterious hidden corners of Peking University are in fact the study rooms of generations and generations of Peking University scholars and professors. Here, we invite you to explore with us various study rooms on PKU campus through the lenses of five prominent PKU scholars Wang Shicheng, Cao Wenxuan, Han Maoli, Zhu Qingsheng and Zhang Fan. Embark on this journey with us and you'll be given insights into some of the most brilliant minds of PKU as you hear them share stories of their study rooms- the place where all the magic happens.

Zhu Qingsheng
Department of History, Peking University

Zhu Qingsheng is a professor of history at Peking University and the chairman of CIHA (the International Association of Art History). He is well known for his "Art History" class, which has been a popular course among students ever since it was first introduced.

As we sit and chat in Peking University's no. 64 Courtyard accompanied by the early autumn evening breeze, Professor Zhu shares with us his fondest memories of his teaching career. Back in 1996, when Professor Zhu opened his first class at Peking University, he told his first batch of students his visions of an "ideal library". "I told them I wanted a library in a small data storing device! It used to be a distant dream, now it has been realized!" Imagine making such a remark back in the times when black and white analog phones were the heights of technology!

In a slightly more serious tone, Professor Zhu continues to tell us, "The principle of reading is to structurally obtain information in the simplest manner". This idea is explained in greater detail in the series of books he wrote for his students, in which he says, "Scientific reading is one of the methods for reading. Its main goal is to extract professional knowledge using the most efficient and effective method."

During the interview, Professor Zhu also mentioned an interesting story regarding his friend Zhou Guoping's library exhibition. Zhou was determined to build a public reading space when he took over as the curator of Shenzhen Pingshan Library so he invited influential figures from various disciplines to display their personal reading spaces, with the aim of promoting reading to the public. Professor Zhu was one of the invitees, but unlike the rest, he chose "online study space" as the theme of his display! This goes to show that Professor Zhu was way ahead of his time in realizing the importance of online studying!

"We must keep reading. We should not only focus on grabbing every fragmented piece of time to read, but also establish a personal system of comprehensive structure. Every move should always be a deeper dive rather than a general step forward," Professor Zhu emphasized.

It seems like we can all have a portable and personal library/study room in our digital devices, accessible to us anywhere and anytime! Have you built yours yet?

Written by: June Tan Rui Min
Edited by: Amanda Hu, Pu Hairui
Photo credit to: Lv Chen