About Geiss Foundation

The James P. Geiss Foundation is a 501(c)-(3) private, not-for-profit  foundation that was established in 2001 to remember Jim Geiss (1950-2000), a lifelong Ming scholar.

Thanks to an endowment from Mrs Jeanette D. Hsu, the Geiss Foundation sponsors research on China’s Ming dynasty (1368-1644) by undertaking, conducting, or funding the following activities:

  • Academic conferences and advanced seminars/workshops
  • Publications and subventions
  • Original research projects
  • Lectures

The Geiss Foundation encourages innovative perspectives in and interpretations of Ming history.

 Board of Trustees

Dora C.Y. Ching Associate Director, Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University
Martin Heijdra Director, East Asian Library and the Gest Collection, Princeton University
Paize Keulemans Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, Princeton University
Christian Murck Senior Counselor, APCO Worldwide
Susan Naquin Professor of History and East Asian Studies, Emeritus, Princeton University
David Robinson Robert H.N. Ho Professor in Asian Studies and Professor in History, Colgate University


Geiss Foundation conducts and holds conferences on topics concerning the Ming dynasty. Jim Geiss organized one of the first major Ming conferences in the early 1980s as part of preparations for compiling volumes 7 and 8 of the Cambridge History of China:  Ming Dynasty, Parts I and II.

Geiss Foundation hosted its first conference, Ming Court Culture, at Princeton University in 2003.  Papers discussed at this conference were published in 2008 in the volume, Culture, Courtiers, and Competition: The Ming Court (1368 – 1644).

The most recent conference Geiss Foundation helped to fund was British Museum’s three-day conference, Ming: Courts and Contacts 1400 – 1450, held in October 2014, and complemented the Museum’s exhibition, Ming – 50 Years That Changed China.   More than 30 leading Ming scholars from across the globe presented new perspectives and research papers regarding the fifty year period from 1400 to 1450.  The Ming dynasty started in 1368 and ended in 1644 but the first fifty years of the 15th century focused on the aftermath of Zhu Yuanzhang’s overthrow of the Mongol Yuan dynasty.  Papers examined the role of China’s imperial and provincial princely courts as well as China’s relations and exchanges with other parts of the world.


Since 2001 the Geiss Foundation has offered partial or total funding to publish the following:

Colorful Lanterns at Shangyuan, an interactive CD, Ina Asim, University of Oregon, 2004.

Culture, Courtiers, and Competition: The Ming Court (1368-1644), David Robinson, ed., Harvard East Asian Monographs 301, Harvard University Asia Center, 2008.

Proceedings of the International Conference on Ming Taizu and His Times, a bound, photocopied volume compiled by Chu Hong-lam, Centre for Chinese History, Department of History, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2006.

Local Administration in Ming China: The Changing Roles of Magistrates, Prefects, and Provincial Officials, Thomas G. Nimick, Ming Studies Research Series, Society for Ming Studies, University of Minnesota, 2008.

Long Live the Emperor! Uses of the Ming Founder across Six Centuries of East Asian History, Sarah Schneewind, ed., Ming Studies Research Series, Society for Ming Studies, University of Minnesota, 2008.

Ming Taizu’s Ideas on Statecraft and Their Implementation 明太祖的治國理念及其實踐, Chu Hong-lam, ed., Centre for Chinese History, Department of History, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2010.

Ming Studies (Selected Papers from Provincial Ming Court Conference), Volume 2012, Number 65

Geiss Foundation Publication Subvention Award

Since 2010 Geiss Foundation has offered subventions to publish qualified books about Ming studies.  These awards are designed especially to assist first-time authors bring their finished manuscripts to publication.  Awards, which are granted the applicant’s academic press, may range between $3,000 to $4,500.  Both publishers and qualified individual applicants may apply.

Recipients of the Geiss Subvention Award and their publications include:


University of Washington Press, Art by the Book: Painting Manuals and the Leisure Life in Late Ming China, formerly known as Ensnaring the Public Eye: Painting Manuals of Late Ming China and the Negotiation of Taste, by J. P. Park.

The Chinese University Press of Hong KongMing Erotic Novellas: Genre, Consumption, and Religiosity in Cultural Practice by Richard Wang.


Harvard University Asia Center, Picturing the True Form: Daoist Visual Culture in Traditional China by Shih-shan Susan Huang.

P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University, Commemorative Landscape Painting in China by Anne de Coursey Clapp.


Reaktion Press, Screen of Kings by Craig Clunas.


Brill Academic Publishers, Colours and Contrast: Ceramic Traditions in Chinese Architecture by Clarence Eng, November 2014.

Geiss Foundation was pleased to extend to Clarence Eng its first individual subvention award for his book, Colours and Contrast: Ceramic Traditions in Chinese Architecture.  An independent researcher of Ming ceramics, who is now with the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, this book is an important contribution to both the study of the relationship between Chinese ceramics and architecture.

In reviewing the manuscript, Dr. Klaas Ruitenbeek, director of the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin, noted that “a monograph on ceramic architecture is certainly something to be welcomed.”  The book includes a selection of 586 illustrations in full color.

For 30 years from 1967-1997, Dr Eng worked as the head of Shell International in and for the company’s China business.  He will be speaking on “The Porcelain Pagoda: A Persisting Enigma”, at British Museum’s conference, Ming: Courts and Contacts 1400-1450, 9 – 11 October 2014, in London.  Geiss Foundation is pleased to be a sponsor of this major conference.  Link here for full program of speakers and panels.

University of Washington Press, The Scholar and the State: Fiction as Political Discourse in Late Imperial China by Liangyan Ge. The author teaches Chinese language and literature at the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Notre Dame.

Published in January 2015, this book examines the relationship between Chinese literati and the imperial state by studying popular fiction of the period, in particular Romance of the Three Kingdoms.


British Museum, Ming China: Courts and Contacts 1400-1450, a volume of 29 essays derived from lectures and papers presented at the British Museum Ming China Conference in October 2014.

Columbia University Press, A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden): Selected Writings by Li Zhi, edited by Rivi Handler-Spitz, Pauline Lee, and Haun Saussy.

University of Washington Press, Confucian Image Politics:  Masculine Morality in Seventeenth Century China by Ying Zhang.

Harvard University Asia Center, Writing, Publishing and Reading Local Gazetteers in Imperial China, 1100-1700 by Joseph R. Dennis.  Local gazetteers rank among the most important original sources for understanding pre-modern China.  The author examines the significance of gazettes in both local and national arenas.


Princeton University Press, The Art of Being Governed: Everyday Politics in Late Imperial China by Michaeol Szonyi.   

University of Washington PressIdle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection by Aina the Layman with Ziran the Eccentric Wanderer, edited by Robert Hegel et al.

Brill Academic Publishers, Monks in Glaze: Patronage, Kiln, Origin, and Iconography of the Yixian Luohans by Eileen Hsu.

University of Washington PressSymptoms of an Unruly Age: Li Zhi and Cultures of Early Modernity by Riva Handler-Spitz.

Ming Studies Research Series, No 7, Li Guangbi’s A Short History of the Ming Dynasty, translated by He Qiliang.


Modern Language Association of America, Approaches to Teaching The Plum in the Golden Vase (The Golden Lotus) by Andrew Schonebaum. (forthcoming)

Columbia University Press, The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection by Zhang Yingyu, translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk. 

University of Washington PressSlapping the Table in Amazement: A Ming Dynasty Story Collection by Ling Mengchu,  translated by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang.

University of Washington PressMany Faces of Mulian: The Precious Scrolls of Late Imperial China by Rostislav Berezkin.