(Original Editor’s Note: On January 5, 1974, 104 professors and associate professors of Fudan University were forced to take an unexpected “cultural examination”. Only seven of them passed the exam, and seven others refused to turn in their papers. Li Zhenlin, a linguist and professor of foreign languages and Chinese at Fudan University, witnessed this absurd examination firsthand. His son Li Beihong wrote an article entitled “An Absurd Professorial Examination at Fudan in 1974” based on his father’s memories. Later, Professor Ge Jianxiong saw this article and was deeply moved by it, so he excerpted what his teacher Tan Qichang wrote in his diary in January 1974 about this examination and interpreted it as evidence. (The two articles are published together for the benefit of readers.
An absurd professorial examination at Fudan in 1974 – Li Beihong
On January 5, 1974, Fudan University conducted a farce of a “professorial examination”, which my father, Li Zhenlin, experienced firsthand.
Was it an examination or a “prestige”?
On that day, I happened to be at Home. My father, Li Zhenlin, a linguist and professor of foreign languages and Chinese at Fudan University, said, “I received a notice from Fudan that I had to go to the school today to listen to the report of the leader of the ‘Municipal Revolutionary Committee’.” So I got on my 26-inch permanent bicycle, which I had assembled myself, and went to the school.
When my father returned home, he was full of displeasure and said, “What a surprise attack. When he calmed down, we asked him about the situation and learned something. It turned out that the school had invited him to listen to the report on that day, but in fact, it was for him and some professors and associate professors of Fudan to take a “cultural test”. My father was very unhappy because he was unprepared and had resistance in his heart. He said, “I’ve been taking exams all my Life, and this kind of attack is unacceptable.” “The paper is marked ‘University Entrance Examination’, which is clearly a trick!” Father said, back then, Tsinghua examination of mathematics, Chinese language, Chinese language topic is “dream trip to Tsinghua Garden”, there is “pair of pairs”, the first couplet is “Sun Xing Shi” “young children away from home, the oldest back “This kind of topic is open, and the test is ability; while the professor of Fudan arranged the examination is a paper, above “politics, language, mathematics, science and chemistry”, the content of the test is not deep, mainly memory, not test intelligence, ability, the practice is very unfair.
Afterwards, I asked my neighbor, Uncle Wu Li Fu (a painter and translator), and he was frankly “tongue-in-cheek” with me: “People want to test you, to destroy your prestige!
Only seven people passed an exam
It is understood that this examination was organized by the Cultural and Educational Group of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee and the Shanghai Education Revolutionary Committee, and was conducted in 18 colleges and universities in Shanghai on that day, with more than 600 professors and associate professors, of whom 104 were from Fudan, accounting for a number of places. From the situation of the Fudan exam, only 7 people passed, and 7 others refused to turn in their papers, which was a brave move back then. This was a brave move back then. 90% of the professors in Shanghai failed the exam, so it is clear that most of them were “uncooperative”. My father once told me that Professor Zhou Gucheng filled in the blank question “The Cultural Revolution brought out the ＿＿＿＿ organization”, and filled in the one that should be filled in as “rebel faction” as “reformist faction”. He could not have been unaware of the term “rebel faction”, but naturally he did so intentionally.
There was also a professor of Chinese who wrote a distorted poem on the reverse side of the paper, which said: “I was shocked to hear about the exam, which was harmful to students. Today the head know this taste, from now on to learn new people.” Honestly, this limerick is written too general, perhaps intentionally. However, the poem still attracted the attention of the senior management in Beijing, the paper was sent to the capital for review, and the Chinese History Museum even offered to collect it to be used as a negative teaching material.
The impact of the professorial examination was extremely bad. Especially since many of the Fudan professors were old at the Time, most of them over 70, it was also too inhumane to drag them to the examination hall. According to Hu Jianwu’s son’s recollection, his father was present at the professor’s examination, and Zhu Yongjia, as the leader of Shanghai, was also present. There is a detail that Zhu Yongjia saw his teacher, Professor Chen Shoushi, arrive with a hobbling step, so he gave a wink to Hu Jawu, who was familiar with the outskirts of the underground party, and said, “Isn’t Mr. Chen in poor health? Why also come, you accompany him to the infirmary to see the doctor.” Father Hu Jiaowu understood and helped Professor Chen out of the examination room, which is considered to have escaped a disaster. This shows that Zhu Yongjia has compassion in the face of the teacher, can not bear to push him into the fire.
The power struggle behind the “professor exam”
Why is there such a farce in Shanghai? In 1973, when Deng Xiaoping returned to office, the State Council, under his auspices and with the support of Premier Zhou, approved the “Opinions on Enrollment in Higher Education in 1973”, which revised the rules for recommending and selecting workers, peasants and soldiers for university entrance that had been in effect two years earlier, adding a “cultural examination”. For the purpose of opposing Zhou Enlai, Jiang Qing and others saw the Opinions and began to conspire. At this time, Mao Yuanxin went to Beijing from Liaoning, in collusion with Jiang Qing’s gang, slandering the cultural examination as a drawback of university admissions, “intellectual education first” “Culture first”. So, when the head of the Jinzhou City Admissions Office talked about a production captain Zhang Tiesheng could not answer the paper to the leadership of the letter, Mao Yuanxin like a treasure, the same night ordered the examination papers and letters sent to the fire. Thus, the “anti-trend” hero Zhang Tiesheng was created. The term “counter-current” was invented by Mao Zedong, who said, “Counter-current is a principle of Marxism-Leninism.”
After the “Zhang Tiesheng incident,” Mao Yuanxin took the lead in luring professors to the Shenyang Medical College in Liaoning Province for a so-called cultural examination in the name of a meeting. At a meeting of the Central Political Bureau from December 12 to 15, 1973, Mao suddenly spoke of “Zhang Tiesheng’s letter. He said, “Don’t look down on the ‘children’s group’; in Beijing we should gather the professors of the eight colleges and give them a batch of questions to test them.” Beijing moved fast enough, on December 30 of that year, that is, to raid more than 600 professors, and also, as it were, to trick professors into taking exams at the school. Beijing professors and associate professors have a backbone, there is no discussion between each other, there are 200 people “learning” Zhang Tiesheng handed in a blank paper, two of the university professors collectively handed in a blank paper.
Beijing and Shanghai professors are very different
From the different performance of professors in Shanghai and Beijing, it seems that we can also see the different points of this group. Shanghai is the town of “Gang of Four”, and the control in all aspects seems to be more severe, while the political forces in Beijing are secretly competing, so that Beijing professors still have breathing space in the cracks, while the political air in Shanghai is more oppressive, and professors have a harder time, and obedience is the majority. The reasons can be found in the culture of Beijing and Shanghai, which has been a port of commerce for 100 years. Beijing is different, the foundation is consolidated, the professor’s salary is more lucrative than Shanghai, there is no need to speculate, look at the wind, and pay more attention to fame. From the style of the people of the two places, the Beijing people are straightforward, less subtle; Shanghai people do not come to open fire with you, but rather a secret position, from the long term. That’s beside the point.
The age of absurdity has its own endless absurdities, and the professorial examination is also a not-so-small thing, right?
Originally published in Century Magazine, No. 2, 2020
The Professorial Examination in Tan Qichang’s Diary – Ge Jianxiong
The record in the diary of Tan Qichang, the late teacher of Fudan, which is published in SEGi Magazine, No. 2, 2020, “An absurd professorial examination at Fudan in 1974”, can be used as evidence for this article, and is excerpted for readers’ reference.
January 3 (1974): In the evening, Shuang Shicheng (professor of history at East China Normal University. He is an expert in the art of Medicine, and Tan Qichang often asks for medical advice for himself and his Family, and generally comes to the door. Chen Shoushi is very sick because of his old age, so his family can only beg Shuang to come home) and Wu Ze (Professor of the Department of History, East China Normal University) came and sat for a while, and Shuang was invited by Chen Shoulao’s (Professor of the Department of History, Fudan University) family to see Shoulao.
January 4: In the afternoon, I went to the student dormitory to study the New Year’s Day editorial. At four o’clock, I went to the first dormitory of Fudan University (on Guoshun Road) to see Chen Shoulao.
January 5: In the morning, classroom 1237 (in the first teaching building of Fudan University) held the exam for professors and associate professors, the exam was based on the entrance exams of the universities of this genus, politics, language, mathematics, physics and chemistry. Politics for the basic line of socialism period, Chairman Mao’s original speech and the time and place of publication, Lenin on the characteristics of imperialism, “An Gang Constitution”, the three disciplines of the eight points of attention, language for the “Dream of the Red Chamber”, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, “Water Margin”, “Journey to the West”, “Confucian History”, “Heavenly Questions”, “Zizhi Tongjian”, “On the balance”, “Liaozhai Zhiyi” and other authors and times, mathematics, physics and chemistry in addition to a mu is equal to a number of square meters, other topics I can’t understand. I can only give the general idea of the basic line of answer, the five characteristics of only three of them, “An Xian” did not answer, “three eight” also forget a small half, mathematics and physics only in addition to the mu accumulation of an article all blank paper. In the afternoon, Gao Fei, the first office of the Shanghai Municipal Revolutionary Committee, in charge of culture and education, came to see Yu and Quan Zenglong (professor of philosophy at Fudan University), Wang Fushan (professor of biology at Fudan University) (the famous historian Jin Chong and a letter pointed out that Wang Fushan is actually a professor of physics, not biology – editor), Zhu Bokang (professor of economics at Fudan University). (Professor, Department of Economics, Fudan University) to discuss their experience of taking the examination. He retired early and went to the health department to measure his pressure at 90.
Note: Tan Qichang was a professor of history at Fudan University, former head of the department during the Cultural Revolution, director of the Chinese History and Geography Research Department, member of the Jiu San Society, and a deputy to the Third National People’s Congress. He was 63 years old at that time, a “bourgeois reactionary academic authority” who had been “liberated” and “used in a batch of two”, and had resumed the work of compiling and drawing the “Historical Atlas of China”.
The diary of two days ago proved that Prof. Chen Shoushi was indeed very ill, and his family had asked his old friend, Prof. Shuang Shicheng of East China Normal University, to visit his home for medical treatment. Chen Shoushi was 81 years old and sick, but when he received the notice of the “important meeting”, he dared not skip it.
At that time, I was a middle school teacher in Zhabei District, Shanghai, and soon we heard the speech of Xu Jingxian, deputy director of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee, about the “examination of professors” and the results of the “examination of professors” in Beijing and Shanghai. The number of professors in each category has long been forgotten, but it was mentioned that “some people took a reactionary stand and turned in blank papers”, and some professors were praised for their good attitude and wrote a poem about their feelings on the test paper, even though they could not do it. When it comes to the Shanghai section, Zhou Gucheng, a professor in the Department of History, is particularly cited: he even got the date of the May Fourth Movement wrong, and did not know the “Three Great Disciplines and Eight Points of Attention”, writing “No urinating or defecating anywhere”. The professor of medical university, who took the temperature, actually put the anal table in his mouth. The professor of physics could not draw simple circuit diagrams and could not use a multimeter.
Originally published in Century magazine, issue 3, 2020