WOMEN IN CHINESE HISTORY
Professors Jonathan Lipman and Kay Johnson
Office: Skinner 208, extension 2368 Office: Patterson Hall 211 (Hampshire)
Office Hours: Mon 4-5, Thurs 12-2 Office Hours: Mon/Wed 10:30-12:30
e-mail: email@example.com e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing/Speaking Mentor: Tara Lindros (email@example.com, PO Box 2559, 493-4016)
This course explores the history of Chinese women from early classical texts to the present: their places and behaviors in society and culture, their relationships with one another and with men, and the evolution of gender roles and attitudes in China's long and complex story. Topics will include ideals of femininity and beauty, sexuality, women's place in family life, life cycles and rites of passage, the participation of women in the revolutions of the 20th century, and contemporary women's lives.
Implicit in all of our work will be comparison of Chinese women with your perceptions and experiences of what it is to be female in societies other than China. Consonant with current developments in women's history, we will explore crucial variables outside gender (such as class, religion, language, political context, etc.) which have affected women's and men's lives in China, or anywhere. The interaction of these variables with gender, rather than gender alone, has created the world in which Chinese women actually live(d). And that actual living will be, inasmuch as is possible, the goal of our understanding. In comparing Chinese women's history to women's history elsewhere, we will search not only for differences but also for similarities.
We will begin the course with a consideration of life cycle and "traditional" ideals of femininity--physical, intellectual, and moral. We will go back to the formative period of Chinese culture to discover the place of women in the classical tradition. Moving forward in time, we will find great changes in women’s lives, especially in the prosperous commercial cities of central and southern China, with the advent of the Song dynasty (after 960 A.D.). Those changes, both positive and negative, continued to affect women's lives throughout the late imperial period (the Ming and Qing dynasties, 1368-1912). Reaching the 20th century, we will find women as both objects of attention and as participants in China's modern (r)evolutions. Throughout the course, the feminist and historical scholarship of the past twenty years will help us to understand the ongoing conflict between textual prescription (ideals) and social reality.
The course will function as a colloquium, a discussion course which focuses on the readings as the core of the work. Each classroom session will focus on one or more readings. The three (3) short papers will be critical essays on some of the course readings. The final paper will require that you design and answer a significant question regarding the history of women in China. The course requirements are:
1. Attendance at class and participation in discussion.
All due dates are noted in the syllabus. Please be sure that you complete all written work on time, for extensions will be granted only for medical emergencies.
The following books have been ordered at the Odyssey Bookshop. You should buy them all, since they constitute an important part of the course readings:
Margery Wolf, Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan
January 28 Methods and Trends in Women's History and Chinese History
January 30 The Language(s) and Geography of China
February 4 The Family Setting: Patriarchy, Patriliny, Patri(viri)locality
February 6 A Woman's Life Cycle: Traditional? Modern? Typical?
February 11 Alternative Women’s Communities?
February 13 Marriage in Song Dynasty China
February 18 Footbinding: A “Curious Erotic Custom”
FIRST ESSAY DUE (Wolf)
February 20 Women in Late Imperial China
February 25 A Late Qing Woman Speaks
February 27 Late Qing as Early Modern: Ch’iu Chin and Other Rebels
March 4 Modernists and the “Woman Question”
March 6 A”Traditional” Woman in “Modern” China
March 11 Women’s Role in Forming the Communist Party
March 13 Revolutionary Women in War and Turmoil
SECOND ESSAY DUE
March 25 Hope and Transformation: Women in the Early People’s Republic
March 27 Reinventing the Family: The Marriage Law of 1950
April 1 The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: Holding Up Half the Sky
April 3 Women’s Roles in Revolutionary China
April 8 Talking about the Unspeakable
April 10 A NEW New China: Women in the Era of Reform
April 15 Rural Women at the Opening of the Reform Era
THIRD ESSAY DUE
April 17 Rural Women in a Changing World
April 22 Population Control and Chinese Women’s Lives
April 24 Research Questions: What do you want to find out?
RESEARCH PROPOSAL DUE
April 29 Changing Images of Masculinity/femininity
May 1 Women and Women’s Studies after Mao
May 6 Reprise
FINAL ESSAY DUE AT NOON ON THE LAST DAY OF EXAM PERIOD (except for graduating seniors, whose final work is due on May 13th).
First Essay (due on February 18)
Margery Wolf argues that Chinese women seek
and obtain power through construction of a “uterine family,” an unacknowledged
entity which includes herself, her sons, and their sons. Answer the following
questions in clear, well-annotated five page essay: What does a woman gain
through her “uterine family”? How does this formation, and the life cycle
which Wolf builds around it, differ from or resemble that of a woman in
the contemporary USA?
Research Proposal (due April 24)
Design a significant research question in Chinese women’s history and find sources which will allow you to answer it. This Research Summary should include the following elements:
a. Your question(s)
Final Essay (due by noon on the last day of Exam Period or, for graduating seniors, May 13)
Ask and answer your question, on the basis of evidence located through your own research, in an 8-10 page essay. Cite all sources that you use (but no others), and be sure to proofread your essay with care before turning it in.