New Graduate Workshop Series: Gender, Aesthetics, and Identity in China & Hong Kong


The Center for Asia Pacific Studies at the University of San Francisco is pleased to announce “Gender, Embodied Aesthetics and Identities Politics in China and Hong Kong,” a three-part graduate-level workshop series on case studies in gender politics and identity issues in the Asia Pacific. 

This workshop is free for graduate students at the University of San Francisco and other San Francisco Bay Area universities. Space is limited to 20 students per workshop. Priority will be given to students who elect to sign up for all three workshops.

This is a unique opportunity for students to learn from the Kiriyama Professor of Asia Pacific Studies, Prof. Eva Man, while she is in residence at the University of San Francisco (Fall 2022). Read more about Prof. Man here


  • Understand the philosophical roots of gender relations in Confucian communities in Asia;
  • Learn the benefits of conducting comparative studies and case studies in research;
  • Acquire the skills to apply gender theories to examine female body representations in contextual studies;
  • Enhance the knowledge of female empowerment through aesthetical embodiments in the history of China; 
  • Realize the growing importance and functions of body theories and the ways to apply them; and
  • Receive a certificate of completion (must complete all 3 workshops)

*This workshop series is not for credit but still provides a great opportunity to learn valuable professional skills to add to your resume. Register here


Three Wednesday evenings from 5:00-6:45 pm. Free networking dinner for registered participants will be provided immediately following. While in-class participation is optimal, participation via video conference is available for those unable to attend all three workshops in person.

  • Wednesday, September 28, 2022, 5:00-6:45 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 12, 5:00 – 6:45 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 5:00-6:45 p.m.

 Workshop #1: Confucian Thoughts and Feminist Philosophy: Revelations of Comparative Studies and Case Studies

The workshop starts from some of the conceptual models that feminist scholars propose, which seek to displace Platonic dualism and emancipate our concepts of the body from Cartesian mechanistic models or metaphors. These echo Confucian philosophy which presents subject and object harmony instead of dichotomy. I explore how the Chinese philosophical ideas offered by the Confucian and the Daoist may provide alternative perspectives to the critical practices of feminists. I then share my research on case studies of female aesthetical representations in classical Chinese works. These representations demonstrate an intertwining relationship among the embodied lives, sexuality, aesthetics and gendered roles in their social environments, demonstrating the spiritual impacts of Confucian philosophy and contrasting the Confucian patriarchy.

  • Introduce female aesthetical representations in classical Chinese work;
  • Link feminist discourses and Confucianism, which has tremendous long-term impacts on women’s lives in Korea, Japan and Singapore, etc.;
  • Illustrate comparative philosophy as a key to understand ideas that are affecting Asian women’s lives.

Workshop #2: Female Bodies in China: Literati Fantasies, Iron Girls and Olympics Hoopla

This workshop applies the agenda proposed in workshop 1 to case studies, and will focus on two overlapping issues while discussing the development of female aesthetics and the notion of a feminine ideal in China: (1) how this development can be understood within the particular historical and cultural context in China and how it can be related to various factors such as economic and political situations; (2) with man as the speaking subject in the Chinese patriarchal system, how male imaginations (especially those represented by the literati) construct the ideal and the aesthetic quality in woman as the projection of their wishes or regrets and as the production of various forms of their fantasies. 

  • Introduce the philosophical discussion of female beauty in the Chinese traditions;
  • Provide a contextual case study of the development and the construction of feminine ideals in the courtesan culture in late Imperial China;
  • Illustrate how the female beauty notion in China is redefined and represented by male literati under certain political and economic changes.

Workshop #3: Female Bodies and the City: Fashion and Women’s Identities in “Colonial” Hong Kong

Recently, China imposed the idea that Hong Kong should not be regarded or identified as a British colony for the labeling is politically and historically incorrect. This workshop looks at the subject of female bodies and the city of Hong Kong under the British regime, to examine how fashion design once has become a negotiation in gender and cultural identities, and whether the fashion trend and development did illustrate colonial cultural features.  This workshop continues to reflect on the critical agenda proposed in workshop 1, and reviews a contextual case study focusing on the fashion design craze in Hong Kong in eras when people sang “God Save The Queen”.

  • How women fashion acts as a locus of struggles for identities;
  • How women fashion in Hong Kong in the 1960s challenged the feudal Chinese constraints;  
  • How post-colonial theories can be applied to East Asian colonies and examine the cultural impacts in the 1960s.

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