Chinese Women: History and Literature

According to conventional wisdom, Chinese women in history were particularly oppressed. They had no freedom, no rights. It is only with the coming of the modern age that the enduring Confucian value and the patriarchal social system that it supported started to break down and gender equality is finally realized in China. Such a simplistic view of dividing Chinese history into two mutually exclusive ages of “traditional” and “modern” and understanding Chinese women’s experiences within such context cannot do justice to the complexity of historical reality. This course sets out to provide students with a more complex picture of the life of women in both premodern and modern eras by introducing them to primary sources and secondary studies. It explores the political, social and cultural aspects of women’s activities in Chinese history and also the representation and self-presentation of Chinese women in literature.

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