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China and Inner Asia
In Session: Gender and Theatre: Portrayals of Women Characters on the Chinese Stage
3: The Interweaving of Dependence and Independence: The Emergence and Social Implication of Middle-Class Intellectual Women in China
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Nanjing Normal University, China
The establishment of the female subjective consciousness in modern China along with the social value system and cultural evolution presents a unique image in different ways and articulates with the historical evolution of Chinese society. Middle-class intellectual women represent the vanguard force of Chinese women from dependence to independence. In the entanglements of nationalism, male characteristics, and female discourse, they are the first to try to break male hegemony and domination of national discourse. They also present their unique historical limitations of dependence and independence. Through the analysis of the screen images of three middle-class intellectual women, the school teacher Liu Minhua in Grief and Joy at Middle Age (1949), the medical doctor Lu Wenting in At Middle Age (1980), and the lawyer li Jie in Finding You (2018), this paper aims to examine the awakening of Chinese women's subjective consciousness that began with the May Fourth New Culture movement in 1919. However, women's subjectivity cannot be completely separated from its relationship to the social system and cultural values. The realization of women's pursuit of their own lives includes Chinese social transformation and renewal. The dialectical relations of female subjective consciousness, the historical significance of female liberation, and the modernization of Chinese culture and society will be analyzed in the co-writing of media discourse and gender politics represented by the films.