16th June 2021: Chinese women in medicine and music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Wednesday, 16th June 2021 at 4pm (UK)

Join us for this exciting double-bill on Chinese women and their roles in medicine and music in the early twentieth century.

‘Space, Gender, and Medicine: Chinese
Female Doctors in the Late Qing and Early
Republican Periods’, Rachel Alexandra Chua, PhD Candidate, University College London

A new form of medical space emerged in China at the turn of the twentieth century with the introduction of the hospital in the Western biomedical model through Christian missionaries. The circumstances surrounding the introduction of hospitals through Christian medical missions included Chinese women converts in these new medical spaces in new, authoritative ways as biomedical doctors and medical authorities. Using the case studies of two of the first Chinese female biomedical doctors, this paper explores this new form of medical space that developed out of the interaction of Christian medical missions and social and cultural currents in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Fuzhou. This allows us to examine the spatial transitions of medical places, the ways in which the quality of spaces available to women evolved, and the ways in which space, legitimacy, and gender interacted in the arena of medicine to give rise to ‘modern spaces’ in which private health became a public concern and medical knowledge was increasingly standardised and regulated


Image: Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church , “Mission Photograph Album – China #15 page 0037,” UMC Digital Galleries,

‘ Western Art Music Education and Chinese Women in Republic China, 1917-1948’, Dr Xuejiao FU, PhD graduate from the School of Oriental and African Studies

This paper focuses on Chinese women in the field of Western art music in Shanghai between the 1910s and the 1940s, which explores why schools promoted Western art music education as a significant part of curriculum, how women benefited from engagement with Western art music and how the performance of Western art music by female students was used to promote liberation, modernisation and national salvation. It focuses on female students who studied music at the McTyeire girls’ missionary school, and professional music training at the first Chinese National College of Music in Shanghai. I will consider a number of different areas of encounter: learning and teaching practices; the family background of students, and their identity and class; and the gender issues that emerged in the process of education. I will talk about how their performances were received and evaluated by foreigners and Chinese as well as by students themselves, and how their musical activities reflected external influences including religious indoctrination, nationalism and European colonial style ‘civilising mission’.



Register for your place on the Zoom webinar:

We do have a limit of 100 attendees, but you can also view the livestream of the seminar on the Women’s History Network Facebook page.

Find details of future seminars in the Spring-Summer series here

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