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Gender, Culture and the Political in Chinese Women's Literature


Admission requirements



This course looks at women-authored prose texts and the question of gendered expression in Chinese literature, from the 17th c to the 20th c. We will consider the relationship between women and writing as well as the making of literary, cultural and political communities in these centuries. We will ask how cultural and political forces such as seventeenth-century Ming loyalism and twentieth-century nationalism and revolution converged with other forces that were re-shaping gendered spheres – especially in the realm of print culture and technologies – to create spaces for the construction of gendered identities. One crucial aim is to interrogate how Chinese “women’s literature” or a “women’s literary tradition” was shaped and re-configured over time. We start with the questioning of traditions of women’s writing by self-consciously modernist reformers in the early 20th century. We end with another period of deep re-evaluation of the relationship between women’s literary subjectivity, culture and political community in the 1980s and 1990s.
Texts include primary literary works, theoretical scholarship on gender as a category of historical and cultural analysis, and secondary historical scholarship.

Course objectives

*Familiarity with major works of Chinese women writers from the 17th to 20th century *Familiarity with major cultural and political trends of 17th to 20th century *Development of close reading and concrete literary analysis skills *Development of ability to bring theoretical, historical and primary texts into conversation *Concrete short essay and long essay writing skills *Academic presentation skills


See timetable on the website of Chinastudies.

Mode of instruction

Seminar course

Assessment method

1/ attendance and participation 20%
2/ reading responses and presentation 20%
3/ midterm short essay 20%
4/ essay proposal 10%
5/ final essay 30%

The grade for the course is the weighed average of the above five components. Students need to get a passing mark for the final essay in order to pass the course.


Yes, Blackboard will be used in this course for the course guide, announcements, assignments, etc.

Reading list

Will be made available through Blackboard


Registration through uSis.

Contact information

Dr. Anup Grewal

Additional information

N.B.: it is not possible to write a BA-thesis with this course!