At the dawn of the 1930s a new empowered and liberated image of the female was taking root in popular culture in the West. This 'modern woman' archetype was also penetrating into Eastern cultures, challenging the Chinese and Japanese historical norm of the woman as homemaker, servant or geisha. Katrina Gulliver explores the creation of this disputed figure in China and Japan. Beginning with an exposition on the work of Pearl S. Buck, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for her best-selling novel Good Earth set in a quasi-mythical rural China, this study unravels the close interplay between Chinese, Japanese and Western gender stereotypes. While nominally the result of changing attitudes towards traditional gender roles, the modern woman was also a symbol of a new type of nationalism in the Far East, one which encompassed a threatening 'Western' modernity. Through the writings of eight indigenous and 'foreign' authors Gulliver analyses discourses of feminism, modernity and 'otherness' in the context of social and political change in the Pacific Region. By placing the women discussed within their contested contextual space, Gulliver is able to analytically dissect the contradictions and dichotomies at the heart of the 'modern woman' discourse in China, Japan and the West, as well as the relationships between social, gender-specific and historical trends. This volume includes close textual readings of the work of Pearl S. Buck, Sophia Chen Zen and Uno Chiyo amongst others, as well as perceptive analyses of the fashion, music and popular culture of the twenties and thirties in China and the Far East. The Modern Woman in China and Japan will appeal to historians and scholars of gender, as well as those studying Asian and American literature.
Modern Women in China and Japan
Gender, Feminism and Global Modernity Between the Wars