REPRESENTATION OF TEACHING MOTHERS IN PAINTINGS: A STUDY OF MESSAGES EMBEDDED IN THE KEZI TU PRODUCTION IN QING CHINA

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

The major objective of this project is to conduct a thorough study of the representation of teaching mothers in a particular category of painting, kezi tu 課子圖 , which became fashionable in Qing China (1644-1912). Efforts will be made to collect and investigate existing works, plus a historical survey of works that are no longer available or would have to be rediscovered from libraries, museums, and private collections. Kezi tu has not previously been the subject of systematical and thorough scholarship. This is the first project-length study on kezi tu. Blessed by the flourishing gender and childhood studies, the historical role of mothers in different civilizations has recently gained more scholarly attention. However, investigation on Chinese motherhood as seen in paintings is still rather limited. Recognizing the fact that mothers are always respected in Chinese culture, this study will employ kezi tu as well as related textual and visual materials to reflect on a substantial fact in late imperial Chinese society: elite women were honored with power to teach their sons. Hundreds of didactic texts encourage women to perform their simultaneous roles of kind mothers and strict teachers. It is wrong to think that all women were uneducated in pre-modern China, or to generalize that women were victims in Chinese history. Those are notions that have been declined by mainstream scholars in the field of gender history over the past two to three decades. In fact, learned mothers did their best to cultivate their sons, and some of them could finally enjoy living within the success of their children. The production of kezi tu vividly illustrates the common expectation of mothers as teachers, especially in the literary class.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/10/1530/09/18

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality

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