Carnegie Mellon University

Half of the Sky: Gender Equality in Modern China

Course Number: 82-238

Taught in English

Over the past 100 years, Chinese women and men have seen tremendous changes in their social and private lives as China underwent wars, revolutions, market reform and opening up. The study on gender equality provides a unique opportunity to explore how Chinese social/private life has been transformed through economic development and social revolution in China. The first part of the course will discuss Chinese traditions, and then move from the May Fourth Movement, through the socialist revolution in 1940s-50s, and arrive at the Cultural Revolution in 1960s-70s. Class discussion will move rapidly through time and will answer the questions such as: what kinds of cultural expectations framed the idea of "man", "woman" and "gender equality" in nineteenth-century China? How did these expectations developed in the twentieth century? What role did the government play in promoting gender equality in different historical periods? What has been changed and/or continued in contemporary China? The second part of the course focuses more on Chinese people's gendered experiences in contemporary China since 1978, when China launched market reform and opening up. Some specific topics include: Chinese femininities and masculinities, Chinese family, dating and marriage, modernity and globalization defined in sexualized and gendered terms, sexual revolution in China, and changing conceptions of gender/sexuality identity under Confucianism, socialism and globalization.

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Units: 9
Prerequisite(s): None