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The culturally contested student body: Nü Xuesheng at the turn of the twentieth century

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Chapter Summary

Historians of sexuality and historians of education are driven by different questions and situate their work in different academic discourses. The premise of this chapter is that bridging this gap through a cultural history of education and attention to the everyday historicity of the lives of female students is crucial to understanding shifting gender norms and sexual practices in China at the turn of the twentieth century. The chapter explores four aspects of this sexuality/education nexus. The first two include the profound gender and sexual anxieties implicit in official documents on women?s education and the more explicit fears expressed in the press over the alleged merging of nü Xuesheng and prostitute in the public imaginary. The last two aspects include the overseas student experience in Japan which contributed to changes in Chinese gender norms, and the development of women?s professional and erotic autonomy through formal female education.

Keywords: Chinese gender norms; cultural history of education; Japan; nü Xuesheng; twentieth century; women?s education



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