Obituary: Professor Jerry H. Bentley Has Passed Away « 全球史研究与教学

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Obituary: Professor Jerry H. Bentley Has Passed Away

Our most beloved Professor Jerry H. Bentley (1949-2012) passed away July 15, 2012 (Hawaii time), at the age of sixty-two.

Professor Bentley first came to teach at the Capital Normal University (CNU) in 2004. For the past six years (2005-2011), Professor Bentley had been guest professor at the Global History Center (GHC), CNU, lecturing and tutoring both undergraduate and graduate students. Just last October, we had moments of wonderful time before he departed for the United States. And now, he has departed for ever from us.

Jerry H. Bentley was a world history professor at the University of Hawaii, USA, and founding editor of the Journal of World History since 1990. He had written on the cultural history of early modern Europe and on cross-cultural interactions in world history. He was one of the most cited experts in the field, championing interactions and connectedness of the world.

Bentley was born in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, the oldest of three boys. His father was an engineer, and his mother was a homemaker and entrepreneur. He attended Brainerd High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then went on to the University of Tennessee where he obtained a Bachelors Degree in 1971, and then his Masters (1974) and PhD (1976) from the University of Minnesota. Following this he began working as an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii in 1976. He rose to Associate Professor in 1982, and full professor in 1987. In 1990 he was the founding editor of the Journal of World History, with Elton Daniel and Daniel Kwok as editorial board members, and Herbert F. Ziegler as the book review editor. The University released a series of monographs on world history, Perspectives on the Global Past, and then became the headquarters for the World History Association. Bentley and Ziegler were also co-authors of the college-level world history textbook Traditions and Encounters which as of 2011 is in its 5th edition, and which saw its first Chinese translated edition in 2007 by the most prestigious Beijing University Press and now in its 3rd edition. In 2002, Bentley became the Director at the Center for World History, University of Hawaii.

Among the awards that he garnered were the Fujio Matsuda Fellow (1985), the President’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching (1987), and most recently, one of the two WHA Pioneers in World History Award (2011) at the 20th WHA conference hosted by the GHC, Capital Normal University.

His research on the religious, moral, and political writings of the Renaissance led to the publication of Humanists and Holy Writ: New Testament Scholarship in the Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983) and Politics and Culture in Renaissance Naples (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987). His book Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times  (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993; in the process of being translated into Chinese, with a Preface by Professor Liu Xincheng, Director of GHC and President of Capital Normal University) studies processes of cultural exchange and religious conversion before modern times.

His other scholarly publications include “Cross-Cultural Interaction and Periodization in World History,” American Historical Review 101 (1996): 749-70; “Hemispheric Integration, 500-1500 C.E.,” Journal of World History 9 (1998): 237-54; “World History,” in D.R. Woolf, ed., Making History: A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 968-70; “Sea and Ocean Basins as Frameworks of Historical Analysis,” The Geographical Review 89 (1999): 215-24; “Shapes of World History in Twentieth-Century Scholarship,” in Michael P. Adas, ed., Agricultural and Pastoral Societies in Ancient and Classical History (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001), pp. 3-35; “The New World History,” in Lloyd Kramer and Sarah Maza, eds., A Companion to Western Historical Thought (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), pp. 393-416; “World History and Grand Narrative,” in Benedikt Stuchtey, ed., Writing World History, 1800-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. xx-xx.

His “Cultural Exchanges in World History,” in idem., ed. The Oxford Handbook of World History (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 343-360 will appear in a Chinese translated version in GHC’s annual academic publication the Global History Review (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2012).


For those who may wish to express their sympathies and/or send their words of condolences please send these to Carol Mon Lee, wife of Jerry H. Bentley, via Dr. Sun Yue at, who would batch-send these to Carol and to ease the burden of those in pain. Thanks a lot.


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