Who, What, & Where: I am Professor of History in the Department of History and American Studies at the University of Mary Washington. My research is in modern Chinese history, with a particular focus on themes of colonialism, expositions and spectacle, as well as the history of childhood. I have published articles and essays in journals such as The Journal of Asian Studies, Late Imperial China, and Postcolonial Studies. I teach courses on modern Chinese and East Asian history, historical methodology, and also on gender, cinema, and childhood.

I received my B.A. in History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, my M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and my Ph.D. in History from the University of California, San Diego. My research has been supported by fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, an An Wang Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University, a Baird Society Resident Scholars award at the Smithsonian Institution, and a Jepson Fellowship from the University of Mary Washington, among others. For more, see my CV.

Twentieth-Century China: I’ve just retired as Book Review Editor for the journal Twentieth-Century China, passing on the job to the excellent Dr. Kelly Anne Hammond of the University of Arkansas. If you are interested in having a book considered for review, please contact her at kah018@uark.edu.

Gulou 鼓樓 / Drum Tower: Among my digital projects is Gulou, a site for collected news links as well as resources for teaching and research related to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and East Asia more broadly. The title of the website comes from a historic area in Beijing which is the site of a drum tower famous for having kept time during China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911). This site also may or may not have been the same neighborhood in which I drank a very good martini in the early summer of the millennial year 2000.

Contact: I’m best reached by email at sfernseb [at] umw [dot] edu. My mailing address is: Department of History and American Studies, University of Mary Washington, 1301 College Avenue, Fredericksburg, VA 22401. Though I have an office phone, I’m frequently away, and so it is indeed best to utilize the email address.

See also: For the twitterati, I can be found at @sfern

Loose ends:

  • When I’m not working, I’m either drawing or shooting photographs, the latter mostly landscapes, architecture, and urban scenes. My very first job was selling cameras in a local photo shop (Underground Camera) in the Boston area at age 15 to save money for college… and for my first Nikon SLR.
  • My favorite camera is still a Rolleiflex. My favorite lens on my old SLR was a 24 mm, f. 2.5.
  • My drawings are sketches, doodles, and line work, usually figures with an ink brush.
  • My father was originally from Bavaria, and he grew up in a small town in the Alps, right on the border between Germany and Austria, very close to where the opening of scene of The Sound of Music was filmed. This fact also meant that my (American) mother used to gather all the kids in our family each year to watch that film every time it was shown on TV. I do indeed know all the songs by heart.
  • Pronunciation of my last name: Fern-seb-ner. It’s actually easier than it looks at first glance.