Joe Dennis

Position title: Professor of History


Phone: 608.263.1853

Office: 5135 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 5006 Mosse Humanities
Office Hours: TBA

Joe Dennis headshot


I am an historian of late imperial China, especially the Ming (1368-1644). My research and teaching focus on Chinese social, legal, and book history. I am currently researching the history of legal education, schools, and libraries in imperial China.


Ph.D., University of Minnesota
J.D., University of Minnesota
M.A., University of Minnesota
B.S-Art., University of Wisconsin


Selected Publications

  • “Legal Education and the Circulation of Legal Texts in Ming and Early-Qing Gansu.” Asia Major 25 (2013), 207-233
  • “Financial Aspects of Publishing Local Histories in the Ming Dynasty.” Princeton East Asian Library Journal, volume 14, no. 1 & 2 (2010).
  • “Early Printing in China Viewed From the Perspective of Local Histories,” in Knowledge and Text Production in an Age of Print: China, Tenth to Fourteenth Centuries. E.J. Brill (Lucille Chia and Hilde De Weerdt, eds., 2010.
  • “Mingdai daxueshi Li Ben wei shenme tuixiu hou gai xing Lü? 明代大学士李本为什么退休后改姓吕?” (Why Did Ming Dynasty Grand Secretary Li Ben Change His Surname After He Retired?). Zhongguo shehuishi ping lun 中国社会史评论 (Chinese Social History Critique), vol. 10 (2010).
  • “Between Lineage and State: Extended Family and Gazetteer Compilation in Xinchang County,” Ming Studies, Vol. 45-6: 69-113 (2002).

Advisor To

Selected Awards

  • Fetzer Fellow, 2015-16.
  • Bibliothèque nationale de France Profession Culture Fellow, 2010.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2010.
  • Dean Rusk International Studies Grant. 2009.
  • Davidson College Faculty Study and Research Grants, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.
  • An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University, Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, 2004-2005.
  • Mellon Foundation Dissertation Seminar Fellowship. 2002.
  • University of Minnesota Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship, 2001-2.
  • University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts Graduate Research Partnership Grant, 2001.
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships (3): Summer 1997, Academic years 1997-98, and 1998-99.

History Courses

  • History 103 – Survey of East Asian History, China – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)
  • History 201 – Historian’s Craft: Shanghai Life and Crime – Syllabus 2023 (pdf)
  • History 336 – Chinese Economic and Business History: From Silk to iPhones – Syllabus 2023 (pdf)
  • History 337 – History of Late Imperial China – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)
  • History 500 – History of Chinese Print Culture
  • History 500 – Chinese Law and Society
  • History 700 – Late Imperial China – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)