Gender and Education in China
It is always a pleasure to express appreciation for support and encouragement one has received from individuals and institutions during the arduous process of writing a scholarly book. The seeds of this particular project were first sown some time ago when a grant from the Leverhulme Trust and financial assistance from the British Council enabled me to spend three months at Nanjing University (Nanda) in the autumn and winter of 1990. As my principal contact at Nanda, Professor Qian Chengdan of the university’s History Department kindly made all the arrangements for my visit and was unstinting in his efforts to make my wife and I welcome. Chen Qianping, also of the History Department (and now professor), was of invaluable assistance in making the arrangements for me to visit the Number Two Historical Archives in Nanjing; I will always treasure his help and friendship during my stay. I had gone to Nanjing originally with the intention of exploring the role of women in social and cultural change in general during China’s transition from an imperial monarchy to a republic in the early twentieth century, but gradually decided that a focus on the significance and impact of public education for girls in China from its beginnings in the 1890s to the early 1920s would be a more incisive way of charting changes and continuities in gender discourse and practice.
Over the next few years I had the good fortune of being able to conduct further research in China, Taiwan and the United States. In 1992, with financial assistance from the British Academy and the University of Edinburgh’s Travel and Research Fund, I was able to consult holdings in the Library of Congress’ East Asian Collection (Washington, DC) and those kept by the Institute of Modern History (Academia Sinica) in Taibei, Taiwan. I am very grateful to Professor Chen San-ching, then director of the Institute, for facilitating my visit to the Academia Sinica, as well as to Yu Chien-ming (also of the Institute), who provided much encouraging support and allowed me to benefit from her own expertise in modern Chinese gender history. While in Taiwan I was also much helped by my good friend and tongxue, Ku Wei-ying, Professor of History at Taiwan National University (Taida); Professor Ku kindly introduced me to his colleague, Lin Wei-hong (now Convenor of the university’s Women’s Research Programme), whose own work on Chinese gender history has been a constant source of interest.
In the autumn and winter of 1995 I was a British Academy Exchange Scholar in China, which allowed me to consult valuable materials held in the Modern History
Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CAAS), in Beijing. During my stay I had the privilege of meeting Professor Xu Huiqi, who graciously took an interest in my project and was a wonderful source of encouragement. I was also fortunate at this time in being able to spend a week in Shanghai, where the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences facilitated my research in the Shanghai Municipal Library. In addition to expressing gratitude to the British Academy and CASS for this visit, I would like to thank the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland for providing additional financial assistance.
As I was beginning to formulate my ideas, I benefited enormously from the opportunities both to present several papers at international conferences and to give a number of public lectures. I would like to thank Dr Glen Peterson and Professor Ruth Hayhoe for inviting me to give a paper at an international conference on Education and Society in twentieth-century China held at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada in September 1996 (as well as at the follow-up conference held at the University of Toronto, Canada, the next year). In 1997 Professors Ku Wei-ying and Lin Wei-hung in Taiwan kindly invited me to give lectures on women’s education in early twentieth-century China to their classes at Taiwan National University, and Lin Wei-hung facilitated visits to Taiwan Normal University and Soochow University (both in Taibei), where I was also able to give talks on the subject. Yu Chien-ming also invited me to give a seminar for colleagues at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Yu Chien-ming was one of the organizers of a significant international symposium on Women, Nation and Society in Modern China, held at the Academia Sinica in August 2001. I thank her and Professor Lu Fang-shang for inviting me to participate in the symposium. I thank the Academia Sinica also for paying for my travel and accommodation. In December 2002, I was also invited to participate in an international symposium on Chinese Education in Global Perspectives at East China Normal University, Shanghai, China and I would like to thank Professor Ding Gang for facilitating my visit. Finally, a research leave grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board in 2003-2004 allowed me to complete the writing of several chapters of the book.
No acknowledgements can end without expressing appreciation for friendship and camaraderie enjoyed over the years. I have been especially fortunate in counting as my friends Mike and Sophia Boccio, Donald Burton, Lloyd and Gwynne Kramer, Ku Wei-ying and Ch’ing-ch’ing, Liu Wei, David Mungello, Geoffrey Newman, Glen and Christine Peterson, and Don and Jill Starr. I especially appreciate and value the support and encouragement given by my two stepsons, Nicholas and Timothy. The person to whom I owe the most, however, is my wife, Dawn, whose love, friendship and support are a beacon of constancy in a world of often bewildering change.
Edinburgh, June 2006