Women in China
The goal of this course is to sharpen the critical thinking skills of students concerning gender and cultural issues as well as to learn about Chinese society. We will examine women in China within the context of family, community, and state, recognizing the complex roles they play as daughter, mother, wife, daughter-in-law, sister, aunt ...etc. Early imperial China saw the formation of cultural values and social practices that continued to influence women in the later centuries. This does not mean that women’s position and gender relations remained static, on the contrary, we see significant changes and transitions in the medieval and early modern periods. The later period, from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, witnessed some of the most turbulent upheavals in Chinese society. It not only saw China suffer repeated humiliation at the hands of foreign nations, endure internal uprisings, revolts and the eruption of two major political revolutions, but also experience fundamental social changes that threatened the very essence of Chinese culture. The portrayal of traditional Chinese women have been exoticized by images of footbinding and forced seclusion. But this is but one piece of the picture, and we need to remember that there is tremendous diversity in China and this applies to Chinese women as well. While China is undoubtedly a patriarchal society where male heirs are more valued, both traditional and modern Chinese women have found ways to exhibit their talents, express their desires, and show their character.