GENDER & SEXUALITY IN CHINA
Instructor: Professor Sasha Welland (Links to an external site.)
Office: Padelford Hall B-110P
Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:00-4:30 pm
*Please note: Every effort will be made to respond to email within 72 hours.
**With exceptions on 4/5, 4/24, and 5/3. See schedule for details.
Artwork: Lei Yan, What If They Had Been Women, Digital Photograph, 2002
This course provides a comprehensive survey of gender and sexuality as key aspects of China’s process of modernization, from the late Qing dynasty through the building of the Republic, Communist revolution, and post-Mao economic reform. It examines, through historical, anthropological, and cultural studies scholarship, the centrality of these social constructs in terms of family, state, labor, body, and ethnicity. The course focuses on Mainland China, but there are opportunities for students through course assignments to broaden this field of inquiry to Greater China, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other diasporic areas of Sinophone cultural formation.
For students of Chinese history and culture, the course introduces important scholarship that has transformed the field. While gender and sexuality were once considered marginal pursuits in the study of China, they are now seen as central to the development of the modern Chinese nation-state, revolutionary politics, and post-socialist opening to transnational capitalism, as well as everyday experiences of family, work, and politics.
For students of anthropology, the course offers an exploration of gender and sexuality as significant dimensions in understanding culture and power and argues for the importance of historical change and transnational encounter in what might seem like culturally specific, stable categories of social life.
For students of gender and sexuality, the course provides an extensive non-Western case study of the social construction of these categories; feminist thought and movements; and the articulations and tensions between local and transnational influences in shaping normativizing ideologies, resistances, and struggles for social justice.
- To understand the centrality of gender and sexuality in modern Chinese history, sociocultural formation, and processes of change. (close reading, listening, and comprehension)
- To examine, in a non-Western context, the cultural specificity of gender and sexuality as social constructs that shape ideologies and experiences of family, state, labor, body, and ethnicity. (close reading, listening, and comprehension)
- To examine how transnational encounters shape these social constructs; and how the “local” and “global” interact and influence each other in producing and challenging powerful norms. (close reading, listening, and comprehension)
- To explore how these constructs are made, maintained, and modified at the macro and micro level, and their implications in power relations and struggles for social justice. (analytic and writing skills)
- To engage in a deep and sustained interdisciplinary conversation about gender, sexuality, culture, power, history, and change. To learn from each other’s expertise in cultural critique, gender analysis, and Chinese history and culture. (collaboration skills)
EReserves: Book chapters and articles marked with R in the syllabus are available through the Canvas course site. They can be found in Files and are organized week by week. Books listed with the annotation (eBook) are available as electronic books through the University of Washington Libraries (UW NetID required).
Books: Available at The University Bookstore and requested for 4-hour reserve at Odegaard Library.
- Susan L. Mann, Gender & Sexuality in Modern Chinese History
- Lydia H. Liu, Rebecca E. Karl, Dorothy Ko, The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory
- Wang Zheng, Finding Women in the State: A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People’s Republic of China, 1949-1964
- Lisa Rofel, Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China
The following reference books may be helpful for your section presentation. All of them, except the titles available as eBooks, have been requested for reserve at Odegaard, with a 4-hour loan period.
- Bryna Goodman and Wendy Larson, eds., Gender in Motion: Divisions of Labor and Cultural Change in Late Imperial and Modern China
- Susan Brownell and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, eds., Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities (eBook)
- Christina K. Gilmartin, Gail Hershatter, Lisa Rofel, and Tyrene White, eds., Engendering China: Women, Culture, and the State
- Gail Hershatter, Emily Honig, Susan Mann, and Lisa Rofel, eds., Guide to Women’s Studies in China
- Gail Hershatter, Women in China’s Long Twentieth Century (eBook)
- Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang, ed., Spaces of Their Own: Women’s Public Sphere in Transnational China
Assignments & Evaluation
Each student’s performance will be evaluated as follows:
Class Participation: 10%
Short Essays (3 total, 20% each): 60%
Discussion Section Facilitation: 10%
Final Reflection Paper: 20%
4.0 – achievement outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements
3.0 – achievement significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements
2.0 – achievement meeting the basic course requirements in every respect
1.0 – achievement worthy of credit that does not meet basic course requirements
Class Participation: Active, prepared participation in each class session is a requirement of this course. Attendance, a pre-requisite of participation, is therefore critical. Students are expected to complete the readings by the day they are listed in the syllabus and to discuss them in an exchange of questions, explanations, and viewpoints about readings and key ideas. For each class meeting, please have notes written and ready to draw from for the basis of discussion. Please bring the assigned texts to class each day so that you can refer to them. If you are using electronic versions of the texts, you still need to develop a note-taking method and make sure you have easy access to them in class. Reading and contributing to your discussion section board constitute part of your class participation, and you should post at least one comment or question per week.
Short Essays: You will write three (3-page/750 words) responses. Prompts will be given one week in advance and will ask you to reflect critically on lectures and assigned readings in relation to the wider themes of the course as stated in the objectives section above. Good essays will demonstrate close and careful reading of the assigned materials, an ability to integrate readings with lectures and issues raised in class and section discussion, and an analysis of how these materials matter in how we understand gender, sexuality, culture, power, history, and change. A grading rubric will be provided.
Discussion Section Facilitation: You will sign up in advance for a specific class period focused on a topic you would like to explore in greater depth. You will do research that involves finding at least one additional reading relevant to the topic. A few weeks already have suggested readings. The reference books on reserve are another good place to start. I am also happy to talk with you and give suggestions after class or during office hours. Please do not just do an uninformed internet search! At least one day before your facilitation day, post on the course discussion board a summary (2-pages/500 words) that does the following: 1) summarizes the main argument of the reading you selected; 2) identifies the evidence and support the author used to make that argument; 3) analyzes how your reading relates to the assigned readings for that day; 4) explains how what you learned extends or challenges your thinking in terms of other ANTH, GWSS, or JSISA courses you’ve taken as part of your course of study; and 5) sparks discussion among your peers by raising questions. Do this at least one class meeting before your facilitation day. In discussion section, you will give a short presentation reflection on your reading (approx. 10 min) and then launch discussion with questions of your own combined with those posted on the discussion board.
Final Reflection Paper: You will write a final paper (6-8 page/1,500-2,000 word) reflecting upon what your learned over the course of the quarter, with a focus on the last three weeks of readings. A handout with prompts to choose from will be distributed on the last day of class.
Class Policies: Extensions are granted only in cases of emergency with prior permission from the instructor. Assignments submitted late will be marked down one whole grade for every day they are late unless prior arrangements have been made. Please feel free to speak with me for further clarification of assignments or if you have questions about the materials. I make every effort to respond to email within 72 hours. Students who have lengthy or complex questions should meet with me during office hours.
Schedule & Readings
M 3/27 - Introductions
- Introduction to course
- TA introductions
- Student introductions
W 3/29 - Gender, Sexuality, and the State
- Gail Hershatter, “Disquiet in the House of Gender,” The Journal of Asian Studies 71(4): 873-894. R
- Susan Mann, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Chinese History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), Introduction and Part I: Gender, Sexuality, and the State, pp. 1-79.
M 4/3 - Gender, Sexuality, and the Body
- Susan Mann, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Chinese History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), Part II: Gender, Sexuality, and the Body, pp. 83-134.
W 4/5 (2:30-3:20) - Body Politics
- Dorothy Ko, “The Body as Attire: The Shifting Meanings of Footbinding in Seventeenth-Century China,” Journal of Women’s History 8(4): 8-27. R
- Charlie Zhang, “Deconstructing National and Transnational Hypermasculine Hegemony in Neoliberal China,” Feminist Studies 40(2): 13-38. R
- SUGGESTED: Laurel Bossen, Wang Xurui, Melissa J. Brown, and Hill Gates, “Feet and Fabrication: Footbinding and Early Twentieth-Century Rural Women’s Labor in Shaanxi,” Modern China 37(4): 347-383. R
- PAPER PROMPT #1 DISTRIBUTED
M 4/10 - Feminism and the Women’s Movement
- Lydia Liu, Rebecca Karl, and Dorothy Ko, The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), pp. 1-146.
- SUGGESTED for students who read Chinese: Original Chinese text of "On the Question of Women's Liberation" which appears in translation in The Birth of Chinese Feminism R
W 4/12 - Feminism and the Women’s Movement (cont.)
- Lydia Liu, Rebecca Karl, and Dorothy Ko, The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), pp. 147-284.
- SUGGESTED: Sasha Welland, “Into the Streets” in A Thousand Miles of Dreams: The Journeys of Two Chinese Sisters (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), 117-129. R
- PAPER #1 DUE
M 4/17 - Sex and Modernity
- Gail Hershatter, “Modernizing Sex, Sexing Modernity: Prostitution in Early-Twentieth-Century Shanghai” in Susan Brownell and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, eds., Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 199-225. R
- Wenqing Kang, “Introduction” and “Sexology” in Obsession: Male Same-Sex Relations in China, 1900-1950 (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2009), 1-18; 41-59. R
- Excerpt from FILM (in class): Queer China, Comrade China (Zhi tongzhi 志同志), Director: Cui Zi’en, New York: DGenerate Films, 2009. (Also on course reserve at the Library Media Center.)
- SUGGESTED: Y. Yvon Wang, "Shame, Survival, Satisfaction: Legal Representations of Sex between Men in Early Twentieth-Century Beijing," The Journal of Asian Studies 75(3): 703-724. R
W 4/19 - Modern Girl Around the World
- Excerpts from FILM (in-class): Goddess (Shennü 神女), Shanghai: Lianhua Film Studios, 1934. (Also on course reserve at the Library Media Center.)
- Madeleine Yue Dong, “Who Is Afraid of the Chinese Modern Girl?” in The Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity, and Globalization (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 195-219. R
- Xie Bingying, “War,” excerpt from A Woman Soldier’s Own Story: The Autobiography of Xie Bingying (New York: Berkeley Books, 2001), 51-91. R
- SUGGESTED: Ding Ling, “Miss Sophia’s Diary” and/or “Thoughts on March 8,” in Tani E. Barlow with Gary J. Bjorge, eds., I Myself Am a Woman: Selected Writings of Ding Ling (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001), 49-81; 316-321. R
M 4/24 (2:30-3:50) - The Women’s Federation and the Chinese Communist Party
- Wang Zheng, Finding Women in the State: A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People’s Republic of China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017), Introduction and Chapters 1-3, pp. 1-111.
- PAPER PROMPT #2 DISTRIBUTED
W 4/26 - The Women’s Federation (cont.) & Feminist Revolution of Culture
- Wang Zheng, Finding Women in the State: A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People’s Republic of China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017), Introduction and Chapters 4-7, pp. 112-220.
M 5/1 - From Feminist Revolution of Culture to the Cultural Revolution
- Wang Zheng, Finding Women in the State: A Socialist Feminist Revolution in the People’s Republic of China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017), Introduction and Chapter 8-Conclusion, pp. 221-264.
- Emily Honig, “Maoist Mappings of Gender: Reassessing the Red Guards,” in Susan Brownell and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, eds., Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 255-268. R
- Elizabeth J. Perry and Nara Dillon, “‘Little Brothers’ in the Cultural Revolution: The Worker Rebels of Shanghai,” in Susan Brownell and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, eds., Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 269-286. R (bundled in same pdf as Honig above)
- SUGGESTED: Emily Honig, “Socialist Sex: The Cultural Revolution Revisited,” Modern China 29(2): 143-175. R
- PAPER #2 DUE
W 5/3 (2:30-3:20) - Gendered Yearnings after Socialism
- Lisa Rofel, Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 1-95.
M 5/8 - Gendered Yearnings after Socialism
- Lisa Rofel, Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 96-187.
- PAPER PROMPT #3 DISTRIBUTED
W 5/10 - Labor across the Socialist-Post-Socialist Divide
- Lisa Rofel, Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 188-284.
M 5/15 - Rural-Urban/Local-Global Politics of Gender, Labor, and Sexuality
- Yan Hairong, “Spectralization of the Rural: Reinterpreting the Labor Mobility of Rural Young Women in Post-Mao China,” American Ethnologist 30(4): 578-596. R
- Lisa Rofel, “Qualities of Desire: Imagining Gay Identities,” in Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 85-110. R
- Guest lecture by GWSS PhD student Yiyu Tian about her dissertation research, “The Female Body and Labor Mobilization—Menstruation Leave in China, the History and the Present.”
- PAPER #3 DUE
W 5/17 - Gender, Sexuality, and the Other
- Susan Mann, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Chinese History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), Introduction and Part III: Gender, Sexuality, and the Other, pp. 138-200.
- Louisa Schein, “Gender and Internal Orientalism in China,” in Susan Brownell and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, eds., Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 385-411. R
M 5/22 - Chinese Queer Theory and Activism
- Petrus Liu, “Chinese Queer Theory,” Queer Marxism in Two Chinas (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015), 34-84. R
- Excerpt from FILM (in class): Queer China, Comrade China (Zhi tongzhi 志同志), Directed by: Cui Zi’en, New York: DGenerate Films, 2009. (Also on course reserve at the Library Media Center.)
- Except from FILM (in class): We Are Here (Women zai zheli 我们在这里), Directed by: Jing Zhao and Shi Tou, Beijing: les+, 2015.
W 5/24 - Lesbian Temporalities and Lala Communities
- Fran Martin, “Love and Remembrance,” Backward Glances: Contemporary Chinese Cultures and the Female Homoerotic Imaginary (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 1-28. R
- Ling Shuhua, “Once Upon a Time,” in Amy D. Dooling and Kristina M. Torgeson, eds., in Writing Women in Modern China: An Anthology of Women’s Literature from the Early Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 185-195. R
Lucetta Yip Lo Kam, “Lala Communities in the Shaping,” Shanghai Lalas: Female Tongzhi Communities and Politics in Urban China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2015), 19-37. R
Guest lecture by GWSS PhD student Yingyi Wang about her MA thesis, “China’s Tongzhi: A Marriage of Convenience.”
M 5/29 - Memorial Day-No class
W 5/31 - Feminist Activism
- Wang Zheng, “Detention of the Feminist Five in China,” Feminist Studies 41(2): 476-82. R
- FILM SCREENING (in class): Hooligan Sparrow, Directed by: Nanfu Wang, New York: Kino Lorber, 2016. (Available as Kanopy streaming video through UW Libraries; You must be logged in with your UW NetID to access.)
Class wrap-up via return to “Disquiet in the House of Gender”
- FINAL PAPER PROMPT DISTRIBUTED
M 6/5 - DUE: Final Reflection Paper