Hsü Ti-shan (1893-1941), also known as 許贊堃 (Xu Zankun), 落華生 (Luo Huasheng), was a Tainan-born writer, translator and scholar who participated in the New Culture Movement in the 20th century. His father 許南英 (Hsü Nanying) was an imperial scholar in the late Qing period.
Hsü Ti-shan has once been the associate professor of the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Religious Studies at the Yenching University (燕京大學).He has also taught as the lecturer of social anthropology at the National Tsinghua University (清華大學), lecturer of philosophy at the Peking University, as well as history lecturer of the Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts at the Yenching University. He has engaged in the teaching of different subjects such as anthropology, Buddhism, Taoism, Sanskrit, history of Chinese religion, etc.
With the recommendation of Hu Shi (胡適), Hsü was appointed the Professor of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong and chaired the department in 1935. He was the second Chinese who was appointed as a professor at the University (The first Chinese professor of HKU is Prof Wong Chung-yik王寵益 from the Faculty of Medicine).
Hsü has taught at the University of Hong Kong for six years and he committed to the reform of the Chinese Department whole-heartedly during the years. Before Hsü took over the post, curriculum of Chinese studies under the leadership of Lai Tsi-hsi (賴際熙) and Ou Ta-tian (區大典) focused on the teaching of classical Chinese literature such as the Four Books and Five Classics (四書五經), literary work of the Eight Masters of the Tang and Song (唐宋八大家) and Tongcheng School (桐城派), etc.
Hsü reorganized the curriculum structure of the Department of Chinese Studies by proposing three streams for the Chinese curriculum, namely “Literature”, “History” and “Philosophy”. For the stream “Literature”, students are required to study not only classical Shi poetries (詩) and passages but also Ci poetries (詞), Qu (曲), novels (小說), literary history, and literary criticism; For the stream “History”, Hsü has increased the portion of teaching materials related to politics, cultural and religious studies; As for the stream “Philosophy”, besides classical Chinese philosophy like Confucianism, Hsü also introduced Taosim, Buddhism and even Indian philosophy to the students for comparison. The reform of the Department of Chinese Studies laid the foundation for future development of the School of Chinese.
Not only is an eminent scholar who has contributed a lot in the education of Chinese Studies at the HKU, but Hsü is also a renowned writer. Some of his famous works include “空山靈雨”, “綴網勞蛛” and “命命鳥”. His passage “落花生” was even included in the syllabus in the high school education in Taiwan.
Hsü passed away in 1941 and was buried at HKCCCU Pok Fu Lam Road Cemetery on 05 Aug 1941. His post was succeeded by Prof. Tschen Yin-koh (Chen Yin-Ko 陳寅恪).