Citizens of Beauty
Drawing Democratic Dreams in Republican China
- PUBLISHED: May 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Art History / Asian Art, Asian Studies / China, Visual Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 232 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 123 b&w illus.
- ISBN: 9780295747019
In the early twentieth century China’s most famous commercial artists promoted new cultural and civic values through sketches of idealized modern women in journals, newspapers, and compendia called One Hundred Illustrated Beauties. This genre drew upon a centuries-old tradition of books featuring illustrations of women who embodied virtue, desirability, and Chinese cultural values, and changes in it reveal the foundational value shifts that would bring forth a democratic citizenry in the post-imperial era. The illustrations presented ordinary readers with tantalizing visions of the modern lifestyles that were imagined to accompany Republican China’s new civic consciousness.
Citizens of Beauty is the first book to explore the One Hundred Illustrated Beauties in order to compare social ideals during China’s shift from imperial to Republican times. The book contextualizes the social and political significance of the aestheticized female body in a rapidly changing genre, showing how progressive commercial artists used images of women to promote a vision of Chinese modernity that was democratic, mobile, autonomous, and free from the crippling hierarchies and cultural norms of old China.
Authors & Contributors
Louise Edwards is Scientia Professor of Chinese History at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She is author of Women Warriors and Wartime Spies of China and Gender, Politics, and Democracy: Women’s Suffrage in China.
Clearly written and delightfully illustrated, this study is an excellent resource for Chinese history and women’s studies classes.- Choice
Makes fantastic contributions to the fields of Chinese women’s history and modern Chinese history. The use of well-described and carefully analyzed images provides a good sense of the rapidity of change and the imagining of China’s new futures.- Helen Schneider, author of Keeping the Nation’s House: Domestic Management and the Making of Modern China
Highlights the radical transformation both in women’s increasingly public roles and in the ways women were imagined in the early republic.- Joan Judge, author of Republican Lens: Gender, Visuality and Experience in the Early Chinese Periodical Press