Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Yuen-Gen Liang

Yuen-Gen Liang

Associate Professor of History

Founder and President, Spain-North Africa Project (SNAP)

Co-President, New England Renaissance Conference (NERC)

Co-Founder, Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (WIIH)

Visiting Associate Professor, Department of History, National Taiwan University (2014)

Visiting Scholar, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley (2015)


Ph.D., Princeton University
B.A., University of California, Berkeley

Fulbright Scholar, Institut Français d'Etudes Arabes à Damas (Damascus, Syria)

Main Interests

My research and teaching seek to break down conventional boundaries that separate regions of the Mediterranean world in the premodern era.  My first book, Family and Empire, studies family networks to tell the "connected history" of five territories of the Spanish Empire in Iberia and North Africa, and analyzes how families rooted for generations in local communities became international, itinerant imperial officers.  My next project goes back to late antiquity in both Europe and the Middle East to study the similar origins and parallel developments of the West and Islam.

I am founder and elected president of the Spain-North Africa Project (SNAP), a new academic organization that brings together scholars and scholarship that consider the two areas as one interconnected region.  Established in July 2010, SNAP has grown from 11 founders to 175+ members from a variety of academic and professional institutions on four continents.  A one-of-a-kind organization that deliberately bridges divides between researchers focused on Christian, Islamic, and Jewish communities and working in Latin, Romance, Arabic, Hebrew, and other languages, we engage in collaborative publications, organize conferences, and present at professional meetings including the AHA, MESA, and ASPHS.

I am co-president of the New England Renaissance Conference (NERC), an annual, interdisciplinary gathering of scholars who convene at a regional university to share work.  I am co-organizer of the 2011 NERC at Wheaton College.  The 2014 NERC will take place at the University of New Hampshire on October 11, 2014.

I am co-founder and co-director of the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (WIIH).  The WIIH brings scholars and their work to campus and infuses them directly into coursework.  Students engage with the visitors and their scholarship, and through the process of presenting their knowledge to expert practitioners, they gain valuable professional skills.  The 2012-2013 inaugural theme of the WIIH was "The Humanities Give Back: The Role of the Humanities in Professional Fields."  Three events in Spring 2013 brought practitioners of business, engineering, law, medicine, and sciences-technology to Wheaton to explore how these professionals structure humanistic knowledge and skills into their work. The 2013-2014 theme is New Media: New Knowledge. Please visit the WIIH website for the latest news and events.

Research and learning within the context of intellectual communities are integral to my work in the field as well as the classroom.  Sharing questions about the past and testing out hypotheses together make scholarship and teaching particularly meaningful and rewarding.  I bring my scholarly pursuits, interests, and questions into the classroom so that my students can also participate in the intellectual discourse of the larger academic community.

Research Interests

(New Research)
The humanities and innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology
Public humanities and history
Germanic and Arab invasions
Fall of the Roman West and East
Emergence of Germanic kingdoms and the Arab empire
Christian, Muslim, and Jewish interaction in the Mediterranean World
Foundation and reproduction of societies

(Continuing Research)
Medieval and early modern Spain/Spanish Empire
Premodern empires
Family history

Teaching Interests

I teach an equal number of courses on European and Islamic histories.  My European courses focus on the premodern era, especially late medieval and early modern Europe.  My Islamic courses range from the late antique to the modern period, and focus primarily on the core Middle East.

Courses in European History:

HIST 275 Old Regime and Revolutionary France
HIST 298 Renaissance and Reformation
HIST 351 War and Peace in the Mediterranean World 1400-1700
HIST 375 Great Stories in Early Modern Europe
HIST 401 Senior Seminar (European/Asian concentrations)

Courses taught in Middle Eastern/Islamic History:
FYS Political Islam in Historical Perspective
HIST 251 Early Islamic Societies
HIST 252 The Modern Middle East
HIST 351 War and Peace in the Mediterranean World 1400-1700
HIST 352 Social Movements in Modern Islam
HIST 401 Senior Seminar (European/Asian concentrations)


Family and Empire: The Fernández de Córdoba and the Spanish Realm (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

Co-author with Barbara Fuchs, “Introduction: A Forgotten Empire: The Spanish-North African Borderlands,” Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies 12, no. 3 (September 2011), p. 261-271.

Co-editor, A Forgotten Empire: The Spanish-North African Borderlands, a special issue of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies 12, no. 3 (September, 2011).

First author, with the Executive Board of the Spain-North Africa Project, "Unity and Disunity Across the Strait of Gibraltar," Medieval Encounters 19, no. 1-2 (2013): 1-40.

Invited co-editor with the Executive Board of the Spain-North Africa Project, Spanning the Strait: Studies in Unity in the Western Mediterranean, a special issue of Medieval Encounters 19, no. 1-2 (2013).

First author, with Touba Ghadessi, "The Interdisciplinary Humanities: A Platform for Professionalization and Experiential Learning," Perspectives on History 51, no. 4 (April 2013).

Co-editor, with Jarbel Rodriguez, Authority and Spectacle in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Ashgate Publishing, under contract).

Other Activities

Conferences, Panels, and Papers

I regularly present my research at annual meetings of the American Historical Association, Renaissance Society of America, and the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies. I co-organized SNAP's 2014 conference on "Power Relations and Religious Communities in the Western Mediterranean" at Loyola Marymount University. The SNAP conference took place in conjunction with the University of California Multi-Campus Research Project-Mediterranean Seminar's Spring 2014 workshop. In recent years, I co-organized the 2011 New England Renaissance Conference at Wheaton College and the 2011 Spain-North Africa Project Symposium at Catholic University of America. I have also organized panels and series of panels at the annual meetings of the AHA (2015, 2013, 2012, 2011), Social Science History Association (2011), ASPHS (2011), and RSA (2010).


Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology Research Grant (2014), Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship (2013), National Endowment for the Humanities Teaching Development Fellowship (2012), Spanish Ministry of Culture (2011), National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute: Cultural Hybridities in the Medieval Mediterranean (2010), Social Science Research Council-International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2000), Spanish Ministry of Education (2000), IIE-Fulbright Grant to Syria (1996).

Invited Presentations

National Taiwan University (2014), Academia Sinica (2014), National Chengchi University (2014), National Taipei University (2014), Boston College (2013), National Taiwan Normal University (2013), Academia Sinica (2013), Scripps College (2012), Florida State University (2012), Wesleyan University (2011), University of Chicago (2011), Wheaton College (2011), Brown University (2009), Social Science Research Council (2002).