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EbreyThe second annual Humanities Center Lecture Series at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, resumes March 10 with a scholar who will take a fresh look at a tumultuous but talented ancient Chinese emperor.

Patricia Buckley Ebrey, a history professor at the University of Washington, will present “Emperor Huizong: Daoist, Poet, Painter, Captive” at 3:30 p.m. in the Black Cultural Center, Rooms 102–104.

Ebrey’s latest book, Emperor Huizong, was published earlier this year.

Harvard University Press said the book is the first comprehensive English-language biography of the monarch.

Emperor Huizong is a nuanced portrait that corrects the prevailing view of Huizong as decadent and negligent,” the publisher said. “Patricia Ebrey recasts him as a ruler genuinely ambitious—if too much so—in pursuing glory for his flourishing realm.”

Emperor Huizong came to the Song Throne in the first month of 1100, a few months after his seventeenth birthday, and reigned almost twenty-six years. China was the most advanced country in the world when he began to reign. He guided the country toward cultural greatness, surrounding himself with outstanding poets, painters, and musicians and building palaces, temples and wonderful gardens. He also expanded the court’s charitable ventures, founding schools, hospitals, orphanages and paupers’ cemeteries.

Yet his successes were overshadowed by his end. Huizong lost the throne to Jurchen invaders and died their prisoner.

Ebrey looks at Huizong’s devotion to Daoism, which turned the mainstream Confucius followers against him.

Ebrey’s scholarly interests also include family history, women’s history and visual culture.

She’s written a long list of books, including The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period, which won the 1993 Levenson Prize for the best book in China studies; The Cambridge Illustrated History of China (1996, 2010), which has been translated into eight languages; and Accumulating Culture: The Collections of Emperor Huizong, which won the 2010 Shimada Prize for the best book in East Asian art history or archaeology.

The UT Humanities Center Lecture Series will conclude on Friday, April 25, with a talk entitled “Where is Democracy Heading?” by Carole Pateman, distinguished professor emeritus of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and honorary professor at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. Her presentation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. in 1210 McClung Tower.

For more information about the UT Humanities Center Lecture series, visit the center’s website.


Joan Viola Murray (865-974-4222,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,