China and Inner Asia
This session invites social and cultural historians, art historians, and literature scholars to discuss the development of a sourcebook on dress, gender, and the body in Chinese history. Despite China’s long history of imagining, regulating, and visualizing the clothed body, the rich corpus of texts, images, and objects have received scant attention from Chinese historians. Scholars of Euroamerica continue to assume that fashion is the prerogative of the capitalist West. The session organizers, Chen and Silberstein, seek to address this deficit by compiling a sourcebook, envisioned primarily as teaching resource, which will translate and contextualize a body of textual, visual, and material evidence, across a range of themes and periods, with the goal of situating the history and historiography of dress, gender and the body of China in a comparative framework and making it accessible to students and scholars.
The participants will lead a critical cross-disciplinary inquiry about the larger significance of placing the history of dress, gender, and the body at the center of Chinese history. Ko has written influential studies on gender, the body, and material culture. Chen and Silberstein have recently written monographs on Chinese fashion (Tang dynasty and Qing dynasty respectively) and taught courses on global fashion history for several years. Zamperini has published on the relationship between fashion, sexuality, and modernity from the Qing to present-day. Li’s work focuses on Buddhist women’s devotional and material practices in late imperial China.
Conducted as a workshop, portions of the book proposal and sample content will be made available to both panel and audience in advance. Together with the audience, we will discuss: What are the current and future states of scholarship on dress, gender, and the body? How might the continuities and discontinuities of this history challenge standard political chronologies? What themes emerge from texts like ritual guides, sumptuary regulations, gazetteers, novels, poetry, and how do they shape our understanding of Chinese history? What new interpretations are enabled by reading these texts alongside visual and material evidence? How can the history of gender, dress and the body enhance the history of textiles, technology, and law, among others?