Berge-Becker, Zach (EALAC-Hist)

Early Career Fellow

Educational Background

BA: McGill University
MA: Columbia University
PhD: Columbia University

Classes Taught

HSEA 3773 Music in Premodern China
ASCE 1002 A History of Arts & Leisure in China and Japan
AHUM 1400 Colloquium on Major Texts: East Asia
ASCE 1359 Intro to East Asian Civilizations: China (upcoming Spring 2024)

Research Interests

Premodern Chinese Cultural History, Social History, Music History, and Art History; Historical Identity Construction and Performance; Social Distinction and Snobbery

Zach Berge-Becker is a cultural historian of premodern China; his research focuses on the cultural traditions and social processes that shaped one’s sense of self and place in premodern Chinese society. His dissertation, “Arts, Leisure, and the Construction of ‘Gentlemanly’ (shi 士) Identities in 7th–14th Century China,” analyzes fields of action that served as leisure for some and livelihoods for others, revealing the emergence of a new discourse in which the “gentlemanly” sort began to distinguish themselves from lower-status categories like “artisans” (gong 工) not by what they did, but by how they did it. He is currently expanding this research into a book manuscript on the construction and performance of “gentlemanly” identities in middle period China.

A dedicated student of the qin 琴, pipa 琵琶, and kunqu 崑曲 singing, Zach has hosted workshops and lectured on premodern Chinese music history at Columbia, the University of Michigan, and Washington University in St. Louis. His scholarship on weiqi 圍棋 cultures in Song-Yuan-Ming China will be published in a forthcoming edited volume titled Games and Play in Chinese and Sinophone Worlds: From Past to Present.