confucius institute

Searching for China's 'Forgotten' Covered Bridges

Presenter: Dr. Ronald G.Knapp, SUNY New Paltz
Date: Friday, March 3, 2017
Time: 3:00pm
Location: Massry Center for Business 141

Among the least known and understood of China's many wonders, bridges are in fact extraordinary feats of building prowess. This illustrated talk will focus on an exceptional collection of recently 'discovered' covered bridges, many of which have structures once thought to have been lost in the 12th century.

[About the Presenter] 

Ronald G. Knapp has been carrying out research on the cultural and historical geography of China's countryside since 1965 and more recently in the United States.
Trained in geography and history at Stetson University (BA 1962) and the University of Pittsburgh (PhD 1968), he has analyzed, celebrated, and promoted understanding of China's domestic architectural heritage through his writings and lectures. His early interest in local historical geography has led to two new books focusing on regions of the United States.

He is the author, editor, or contributor of more than 20 books, including China's Traditional Rural Architecture: A Cultural Geography of the Common House (1986), which was the first book in English to introduce Chinese vernacular architecture to Western readers. It is remarkable that this pioneering book appeared fully one hundred years after Japanese vernacular architecture was introduced to the English-speaking world.

For the past decade, he has worked with the well-known photographer A. Chester Ong on a growing family of books published by Periplus/Tuttle that combine fine photography with authoritative texts. Their collaborative work has taken them from China to Southeast Asia where they have documented the little known domestic architecture in the Chinese diaspora.

In recent years, he has returned to an early interest in the history of transportation as he has collaborated with Terry Miller and Chester Ong on researching covered bridges throughout North America, a project that took four years of fieldwork throughout the United States and Canada. Their book AMERICA'S COVERED BRIDGES: PRACTICAL CROSSINGS AND NOSTALGIC ICONS was published in early 2014.

His most recent book is THE GUNKS (Shawangunk Mountains) RIDGE AND VALLEY TOWNS THROUGH TIME with Michael Neil O'Donnell. With a range of significant THEN historical photographs--many of which have never been published--they are complemented with NOW photographs contributed by Fred Gerty, Maxine Kamin, Glenn Koehler, Susan Koehler, Susan Lehrer, Michael Neil O’Donnell, Carol Rietsma.

Knapp taught from 1968 through 2001 in the Department of Geography and Asian Studies Program at the State University of New York, New Paltz. He holds the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

He enjoys hiking and 'reading the landscape' whether in the US northeast or in China. Since 1987, he has served on the Board of of Mohonk Preserve, New York's largest not-for-profit nature preserve, and was its President from 2004-2013.

Covered Bridges