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January 04, 2002

China’s Cultural Revolution: A Turning Point in History

Lecture by Sidney Rittenberg
January 31, 2002
7 pm, 220 Kane Hall, UW Campus
FREE Admission

SeattleX Sidney Rittenberg was twenty-four years old when he departed for the US Army headquarters in China as a Chinese language expert in 1945. One year later he had accepted his honorable discharge, but his work in China was far from over. He joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency and was employed as a neutral interpreter for all three sidesXUS, Nationalist, and CommunistXduring the Chinese Civil War. It was in this role that he first met the Chinese Communist leader Zhou Enlai and, through Zhou, Chairman Mao Zedong.

Just before his anticipated return home to the US, Rittenberg accepted an invitation by the Communist leaders to stay in China and assist in setting up an English language program. Over the next 35 years, Rittenberg remained in China and became esteemed by Chinese writers, translators, and others in the English journalism community.

He took part in the translation of major Chinese texts, including selected works of Mao Zedong, and was acquainted personally with other important Chinese leaders, such as Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De, Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yi and the "Gang of Four." Though committed intellectually and ideologically to the aims of the Party, Rittenberg was nonetheless imprisoned twice by Mao, on charges of being a CIA agent, and spent a total of 16 years in solitary confinement.

He and his wife returned to the United States in 1980, where they act as consultants to American businesses, government agencies, and public figures involved in China. In 1993, Rittenberg published his autobiography, The Man Who Stayed Behind. Formerly the Edward M. Bernstein Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Rittenberg is currently Visiting Professor in China Studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.

At 7:00 pm on January 31, 2002 (Kane Hall, Rm. 220, UW campus), Rittenberg will discuss the Cultural Revolution, and his part in a democratic movement that went sour. Autographed copies of The Man Who Stayed Behind will be available for purchase at the event. Offered in conjunction with the Burke's temporary exhibit, Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: China's Cultural Revolution, which runs from Jan. 24 - March 10, 2002. Lecture co-sponsored by University Bookstore.


The Burke Museum is located at the corner of NE 45th St and 17th Ave NE on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm on Thursdays. Admission is $6.50 general, $5 senior, $3.50 students/ youth, FREE to children 5 and under. Admission is free to Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff, and to the public on the first Thursday of each month. An additional fee may apply for special exhibits and programs. For 24-hour recorded information, please call 206-543-5590 or visit www.burkemuseum.org. Please note that there may be additional fees for special exhibits and programs.

(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274