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Di Wang

Margaret Tillman


The structure of aged-based education and the science of childhood development were introduced to China in the last decades of the Qing dynasty. Drawing on period textbooks, journal articles, and school documents for women and children, this study argues that the theory of childhood development helped shape socialized play and citizenship training in new schools. These new institutions followed scientific insights about childhood development in terms of both physical and emotional growth. Educators hoped to found schools that would inculcate respect for political authority within the classroom, and administrators took unprecedented steps in documenting and regulating children. Schools not only became places for disseminating learning, but also centers for gathering information about children and their families, as well as about childhood itself. The production of knowledge and the institutionalization of schools for preschool children helped usher in new trends that denaturalized childrearing outside of the family domain.

Zhaoguang Ge


Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty celebrated his eightieth birthday in 1790, for which Vietnam, Korea, the RyūkyūIslands, Burma, and Mongolia sent delegates to the imperial summer resort at Chengde to pay homage. Curiously, the Annamese (or, Vietnamese) king NguyênQuangBình, who had just defeated the Qing army, offered to appear in Qing costume and kowtow to the Qing emperor. The unusual act pleased Emperor Qianlong and infuriated the Korean delegates. What did costume and ceremonial mean in the context of the East Asian political and cultural order? Why did the British embassy to China led by Lord Macartney three years later cause friction with regards to sartorial and ceremonial manners? This lecture will address these questions.

Scott Pearce


This article examines the various ways in which the Northern Wei emperor Wenchengdi (440–465; r. 452–465) was portrayed to his subjects. As is the case with many monarchs in many countries, he played different parts before different groups. For his soldiers, he was represented as a great hunter and marksman; to farmers in the lowlands, as a caring protector and benefactor; to potentially rebellious groups on the periphery, as a strong and steady observer of their actions. At the same time, it was in his reign that the Northern Wei court began efforts to use Buddhism as an overarching way to justify rule to all within the realm, by initiating construction of the famous cave-temples at Yungang, where “Buddhas became emperors and emperors Buddhas.” The spectacles through which Wenchengdi was portrayed are contextualized by a parallel examination of the very difficult life of the person behind the pomp and circumstance.

Nicole Richardson


As Chinese nationalists grappled with the political and military weakness of the young Republic of China, some sought to strengthen the Chinese race by advocating a return to the ancient practice of fetal education. Fetal education held that every sight, sound, and flavor that a pregnant mother took in through her senses, as well as her emotions and demeanor, directly affected her fetus. This paper examines how the text Taijiao, Song Jiazhao's 1914 Chinese translation of Shimoda Jirō's Japanese work Taikyō, presents a modern reformulation of fetal education that draws upon both modern Western science and East Asian medicine. As the text uses modern biology and psychology to explain and demonstrate the efficacy of fetal education, it also narrows the scope of fetal education to focus almost exclusively on the mother's psychological state. Similarly, as the text turns to instruct women on the practice of fetal education, it draws upon Edo and Qing gynecological principles to emphasise the importance of the pregnant mother's emotional self-control. Ultimately this text represents a neo-traditionalist response to modernity as it presents a Neo-Confucian vision of fetal education focused on a pregnant mother's moral self-cultivation and emotional self control.

Guannan Li


This paper, the first examination of the urban reconstruction of Nanchang, headquarters of the New Life Movement during a period of “National Revival” from 1932–37, presents a fresh understanding of the Guomindang (GMD) New Life Movement. By framing the Nanchang urban reconstruction as an integral program of the New Life Movement, it challenges the established wisdom of the Movement's mere focus on disciplining Chinese population without any agenda to materially transform Chinese life. By examining GMD engineering efforts to construct public infrastructure, this essay testifies to the Movement's concrete impact on urban residents. In doing so, it offers a new conceptualization of the New Life Movement as a distinctive moment of Chinese modernity during a process of constructing new urban space in China's interior cities. This paper also brings to light the ignored connection between the New Life Movement and the historical and ideological context of the GMD National Revival Movement. As the GMD leaders believed, a “new Nanchang” would regenerate a stable national culture and identity as a critique of capitalist modernization. By calling attention to the logic of overcoming modernity, the paper resituates the New Life Movement into cultural revival movements worldwide.

Charlotte Cowden


By the 1930s, a variety of forces were chipping away at the traditional Chinese wedding in urban centers like Shanghai. “New-style” weddings—with a bride in a white wedding dress—took place outside of the home and featured networks of friends, choice of one's spouse, autonomy from one's parents, and the promise of happiness and independence. With the publication of wedding portraits and detailed discussions of new-style wedding etiquette and its trappings, women's magazines further shaped the new-style bride as a consumer and an individual. Early reformers had envisioned the new-style ceremony as a streamlined and affordable alternative to traditional ceremonies, but for most city residents these weddings remained out of reach. After the Nationalist consolidation of power in 1928, Shanghai was deemed a crucial site for the promotion of ritual reform and economic restraint. Weddings were at the crux of this movement, which was buttressed by the Civil Code of 1931 allowing children to legally marry without parental consent. New Life Movement group weddings came next. These ceremonies co-opted urban wedding culture in an attempt to frame the new-style wedding as a ritual of politicized citizenship under the Nationalist government. The tension between the popular, commercial, new-style wedding and the Nationalists' Spartan political vision, as played out in the market, is examined below.