"A New Approach to the Popular Press in China: Gender and Cultural Production, 1904-1937" seeks to restore complexity to early-twentieth-century Chinese history by liberating that history from its own reductive discourses on the failings of tradition and the promise of modernity.
Our instrument and object of investigation is the popular press, a new and as yet understudied medium that dominated the contemporary print market and became one of the prime sites for the production of knowledge and culture.
The project's thematic focus is the fraught and momentous subject of new gender relations in this period when footbinding ended, formal female education was officially sanctioned (1907), and women’s public roles dramatically expanded. Combining the methods of cultural, print, and women’s history, our geographical locus is Shanghai, epicenter of developments in both the periodical press and gender relations at the turn of the twentieth century. We use four influential Chinese women’s journals—a key genre of the popular press—to analyze shifts in gender roles, cultural practices, and in the very media that both drove and reflected these changes.
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This project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the York Centre for Asian Research (York University), the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context: Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows" (Heidelberg University), and the Humboldt Foundation.