ASIAN 352 - Gender, Sexuality, and Power in Premodern China
Fall 2023, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
At least one course in Asian studies or Women's studies.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


This course explores gender and sexuality in China before the 20th century. Are “women” and “men” useful categories of analysis for premodern China, or did people think of themselves in other terms? What role did bodies, duties, virtues, and desires play in relationships among people? What role did writing play in negotiations of gender roles and expressions of sexual desire in premodern China? In this course, you will learn how gender and sexuality functioned in a range of premodern discourses and practices. We will begin by reading foundational Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian texts that prescribe gendered roles and virtues. We will bring these into conversation with the conception of the body and sex difference presented in traditional medical texts, which drew on all of these traditions. In the second part of the course, we will investigate the relationship between writing and gender, asking how people described gender and sexuality in letters, poetry, plays, novels, and short stories. We engage these experimental, utopian, or prescriptive gendered textual spaces with an interest to understand how people conceived of the delights and dangers, possibilities, and constraints of the negotiations between their bodies and texts. We will occasionally take our investigation beyond the textual realm to consider other sorts of objects: paintings, decorative objects, book illustrations, and theatrical performances. We will conclude by evaluating attacks on the traditional sex-gender system by feminist modernizing movements at the turn of the 20th century.

Course Requirements:

In-Class Participation 20%; Informal Writing 20%; Formal Essays (2) 30% (15% each); Final Project with in-class presentation 30%; Attendance -2% for each unexcused absence

Intended Audience:

This course is appropriate for students at the sophomore level and above. It is intended to bring together students with an interest in China studies, gender and sexuality studies, and performance studies.

Class Format:

Two 90-minute meetings weekly


ASIAN 352 - Gender, Sexuality, and Power in Premodern China
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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