[csaa-forum] Usyd GCS Seminar: The Question of Women and Chinese Modernity

Fiona Allon fiona.allon at usyd.edu.au
Tue Mar 31 20:05:36 CST 2009

Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney.

"The Question of Women and Chinese Modernity"

Dr. Yiyan Wang (Chinese Studies) & Prof. Mayfair Yang (Asian Studies)

WHEN: Friday, 3 April, 2pm. 
WHERE: Western Tower Boardroom (J4.03), Quadrangle (A14), University of Sydney
The seminar will followed by drinks at Manning Bar. All very welcome!

China’s trajectory towards modernity began with the question of women. When European and Japanese colonial powers forced themselves into China, Chinese intellectuals sought everywhere for answers in national salvation. They found China’s weakness reside in women, not only in their bond feet but also in their shameful illiteracy and emotional numbness. What China lacked, many of them argued, were healthy, intelligent mothers who could produce strong sons for the nation. For more than a century, Chinese women and their liberation have been the battle grounds for intellectuals and believers of very different political persuasions. This presentation will cover a range of issues related to the question of women in China’s cultural and social history of the past century. We will begin by examining the early intellectual debates and women’s representations in literature in the 1920s and 1930s. It will be followed by discussions on how the Chinese Communist Party institutionalized state feminism when they took power and its ramifications for women and men in Chinese society in general. We will demonstrate how commercialism in recent years have forced the retreat of state feminism and brought about “sexual liberation”. The presentation will conclude with explorations of the ways Western feminist theory may or may not apply to the situations of Chinese women. 

Dr Yiyan Wang received her PhD in Chinese literature from the University of Sydney. She is currently Chair of Chinese Studies in the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sydney. Her area of teaching and research is primarily modern Chinese literature and culture. Her current research project studies the impact of colonialism on modern Chinese intellectual history and visual culture. She is the author of Narrating China: Jia Pingwa and His Literary World (Routledge 2006). 

Professor Mayfair Yang received her PhD. in Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, and taught at U.C. Santa Barbara between 1987 and June 2007. She came to the University of Sydney in July 2007 as the Chair of Asian Studies. She is interested in issues of religion, secularization, and the state in modernity, especially in the tensions and traumas accompanying the break with traditional orders under colonial and post-colonial conditions. Her areas of research and teaching are: critical theory; gender and feminism; media studies; sovereignty and state power; and cultural approaches to political economy. 

RSVP/Apologies to Fiona Allon (fiona.allon at usyd.edu.au). 

If you have any questions about the seminar series or how to find the venue, please feel free to contact me.

Dr Fiona Allon
Department of Gender and Cultural Studies
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry 
The University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Office: J6.09, Main Quadrangle (A14)
Tel: +61 2 9351 6815
Fax: +61 2 9351 3918
Mobile: 0409 901 039
Email: fiona.allon at usyd.edu.au

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