restricted access Figuring Modernity: The New Woman and the Modern Girl in Republican China
Abstract

This paper examines the cultural figures of the New Woman and the Modern Girl in Republican China (1911-1949). In addition to reflecting the anxieties arising from a changing gender ideology, these contending images reveal anxieties associated with the concept of modernity and the modern nation project. The New Woman represents a positive view of linear modernity and hopes for a strong future China. The Modern Girl manifests in two distinct ways: as a self-absorbed woman searching for subjectivity and as a dangerous femme fatale who devours the urban male. Both of these manifestations reveal deep anxieties over the alienation and loss that accompany modernity. Literary works by Ding Ling, Mao Dun, Shi Zhecun, and others reveal that the figures of the New Woman and the Modern Girl cross political and canonical lines. They can best be distinguished by their use in depicting the hopes, fears, pleasures, and dangers of modernity.


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