First Advisor

Ken Ruoff

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors




Women -- China -- History -- 19th century, Women -- China -- History -- 20th century, Women -- Education -- China – History, China -- Politics and government -- History, Educational change




The modern Chinese 'girl student' was born in a context of great upheaval and redefinition within Chinese society. The ability to produce a generation of educated and civic-minded young people was integral to various reform projects at the turn of the twentieth century--doing so would develop a widespread sense of belonging to the cause of national salvation. This meant introducing a modern education system and engaging with the general population of China in unprecedented ways, including extending opportunities previously unavailable to large portions of the population. I situate my research within this phenomenon, where the young female student takes on the role of new national citizen. I identify the late years of the Qing dynasty (1895 - 1911) and the early years of the Republican era (1912 - 1919) as a key period of reform. Both in last minute attempts to save the imperial system, and in forward-looking efforts to build the foundation for a modern China, these reforms increasingly pulled women into an evolving public sphere. In doing so, I delineate the extent to which developments in areas of education and print culture served to draw Chinese women into the realm of a new, unified "Chinese" identity in China’s transition to modernity.


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