Cultural Exchange: The Story of William Angus and His Poetry

Student Author(s)

Eric Dawson

Faculty Mentor(s)

Drs. Marc Baer and Gloria Tseng

Document Type


Event Date



From 1925-1952, William Angus served as a missionary for the Reformed Church of America in China’s Fujian province. During his time in China, Angus wrote over three hundred poems. When he returned back to the United States , he compiled the poems into five separate books, which, however, were never published. Angus’s poems are a valuable avenue to understanding his missionary experience, for they reveal his transition from one culture to another as well as his desire to fit into Chinese culture as a Western missionary. The poems also show how difficult it was to do this, and how missionaries brought their own culture into China. In Angus’s case, the poems show how natural it was for missionaries, and local Chinese, to notice the differences in one another. Angus’s poems also reveal the delicate nature of his American political power. More surprisingly, his poems show how the local Chinese used his American status to further their own ends. The too often one-sided analysis of foreign missionaries forcing culture onto the indigenous people is challenged through Angus’s poetry.


This research was supported by a Pagenkopf History Research Grant.

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