Chauncey Goodrich

Emeritus Professor
Ph.D., UC Berkeley


Professor Chauncey S. Goodrich joined the Department of Germanic, Oriental and Slavic Languages and Literatures in 1964 before the Asian program became East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies Department. From language to literature, his major research interests focus on many facets of early Chinese civilization. His scholarly contributions have been recovering ancient Chinese practices and institutions from textual and archaeological sources and making them available for higher-level synthesis. He taught courses on various topics such as “Chinese Mythology” and “The Scripts of Asia.” In addition to teaching, Professor Goodrich served in the office of Vice-Chairman for many years. Outside the campus, he was both administratively and scholarly active for the American Oriental Society and its journal.


In Memorium:

Professor Goodrich passed peacefully on the morning of Nov. 14, 2013, at the age of 93. He was born in San Francisco on March 18, 1920, and was raised in Saratoga when the Santa Clara Valley was known for its fruit orchards. He attended the Thacher School in Ojai, and then Yale University, graduating in 1942. Uncle Sam wanted him to learn Japanese for the war effort, and he eventually served in occupation headquarters in Tokyo. While in training at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, he met and married Dorris West, his wife for 68 years.

After the war, the couple enrolled in graduate school at UC Berkeley, earning their doctorates in 1952 (Dorris, sociology) and 1957 (Chauncey, classical Chinese). Prof. Goodrich taught at Cambridge University before joining the UCSB faculty in 1964 in what was then the Department of German and Russian. There he laid the foundation for the modern Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, from which he retired in 1987. He was an active member of the American Oriental Society, primarily as Far Eastern editor of the AOS journal and as a participant in annual conferences, particularly the meetings of the western branch; he was honored with the AOS presidency for the year 1998-99.

He was a scholar, and many have remarked that he was a gentleman of the old school. Even casual acquaintances quickly recognized his consideration for others.,He will also be remembered as a quiet man. Those who got to know him soon enjoyed his ever-present wit and glimpsed his erudition and extraordinary sensitivity to all manner of stimuli: he noticed the light on the hills, and enjoyed good food and wine; he loved music — his children recall his filling the house with Bach while practicing the cello suites, and later he sang with the Santa Barbara Master Chorale; he valued the feelings of those around him and worried over the human condition.

Besides his wife Dorris, he leaves four children: Anne Heck, and David, Jonathan, and Chris Goodrich, as well as ten grand-children and three great-grand-children (soon to be joined by a fourth). There will be a memorial service in the months ahead.

Selected Articles:

  • Biography of Su Cho’o. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1953.
  • “A New Translation of Shih chi.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 82 (1962): pp. 532-544.
  • “Two Chapters in the Life of an Empress of the Later Han, Pt. I.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 25 (1964-65): pp. 165-177.
  • “The Saddles of the Horses of Lei-t’ai.” Journal of the American Oriental Society (1986): pp.41-48.
  • “Ch’üan Shang-ku san-tai Ch’in Han san-kuo liu-ch’ao-wen” (Complete Prose of High Antiquity, the Three Dynasties, Ch’in, Han, Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties). The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature (Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1986), pp. 361-63.