Jonathan Dermot Spence (born 11 August 1936) is a British-born American historian and public intellectual specialising in Chinese history. He was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University from 1993 to 2008. His most widely read book is The Search for Modern China, a survey of the last several hundred years of Chinese history based on his popular course at Yale. A prolific author, reviewer, and essayist, he has published more than a dozen books on China. He retired from Yale in 2008.
Spence's major interest is modern China, especially the Qing Dynasty, and relations between China and the West. Spence frequently uses biographies to examine cultural and political history. Another common theme is the efforts of both Westerners and Chinese "to change China," and how such efforts were frustrated.