HIST 2932 Engendering China (also ASIAN 2291, CAPS 2932, FGSS 2932) (HAN)
Tuesday and Thursday: 9:40-10:55
Professor Mara Du
In contemporary China, as in many other places of the world, the ideology and social reality of gender relations is highly paradoxical. Women are flattered for their power as consumers and commitment to the family while they are also expected to engage in wage-earning employment. Men, on the other hand, face constant pressure of being tough and social problems such as costly betrothal gifts as unintended consequences of a gender regime that is supposedly male-oriented. Are these paradoxes a betrayal of the socialist experiment of erasing gender differences? Are they remnants of China’s long imperial tradition? This course explores the power dynamics of gender relations in China from ancient times to the present. It leads students to examine scholarship that challenges the popularly accepted myth of lineal progression of China toward gender equality, and to understand women’s and men’s life choices in various historical settings. At the same time, this course guides students to adopt “gender” as a useful analytical category, treating China as a case study through which students are trained to “engender” any society past and present.