Monthly Archives: January 2015

Gender, Society, and Politics in Chinese Theater

For my research paper, I would like to explore the relationship between theater and the areas of gender, society, and politics, in the era . I intend to focus on traditional theater, meaning stage-adaptations of plays. There are many dynamics between gender and politics as they are portrayed on stage, one example being female impersonation in theater since women were not allowed on stage and their rising popularity and how later in the republican era it became a subject of social and political debate. Other topics include plays that satirize the concept of traditional marriage and advocate for women’s independence, such as “A Wasp” by Ding Xilin, which I will be using as my primary source to explore theater.

RLOG #3: Symbolism in Stones in the Sea

Throughout the novel, references to fruits and flowers are made, all pointing to well-wishing on the behalf of the narrator, Qin Ruhua. However, the traditional symbolism loses its meaning after the ill-fated romance between Ruhua and Aren comes to an end in the novel’s conclusion. A parallel between the symbols and Mencius’s idea of marriage exists.This is perhaps intentional to show how tradition is not a reliable source, since things can change and also to reinforce the idea that there was nothing lucky or auspicious in their union as these symbols may indicate.  The symbols and Mencius’s idea represent tradition while the culminating ill-fated romance of the narrators show that tradition should be changed to be more realistic and sympathetic to young lovers.  Continue reading

North Korean Defector Admits to Inaccuracies in Personal Account

North Korea is one of the countries with the worst human rights records in the world, with many defectors and labor camp survivors who are able to attest the atrocities they suffered. North Korean refugees are one of the biggest security issues that the world, China especially, faces.  It is a large-scale humanitarian concern and political, since no country wants to draw Pyongyang’s antagonism, especially after they declared that they did not want any country harboring refugees.

It has recently come to light that one of these survivors, Shin Dong-Hyuk, author of a bestselling book and a key witness for the UN, admitted to inaccuracies in his depiction of the Kwan-Li-So, a gulag-styled labor camp, where those who commit even the most minor offenses are punished alongside their entire families (up to three generations are punishable and deemed guilty by association). This admission, though honest, may convince the public that the situation in North Korea is nowhere near as dire as the defectors claim.  It is extremely difficult to fully prove that what the defectors claim are true, however due to the number of survivors claiming horrific abuse and the physical evidence many exhibit, their claims hold plenty of weight. Exaggerations aside, refugees are often hesitant to speak the full truth, or at all, due to the possibility of hurting those they left behind, including family or people aiding their escape. Shin urges that awareness should continue to be raised to help those who have managed to escape and to help those who are still subjected to horrific tortures within North Korea.



RLOG #2: Self-Intro

Hello, I’m Mia, and I’m a History/International Affairs major (with a Security and Conflict Studies minor. It’s a lot. I know.) My interest in history is very varied through a variety of topics and particularly reinforced by my interest in International Affairs, so I particularly like World History the most , including East Asian history, Latin American history (pre-Colombian America in particular), and Indian, Byzantine, Islamic Civilization… Literally almost everything that isn’t European (Though Russia is a very… interesting… place). Within these areas, I love learning about culture (the arts and theology/philosophy) and gender and ethnic/race relations within these societies.

My interest in East Asian history has come from a lot of different sources, mainly from the people I’ve encountered in my younger years. Growing up, I mainly had Korean friends (where I live has a large Korean population so there are also lots of Korean restaurants, grocery stores, etc., so the influence has always been there.) and they introduced me to different aspects of Korean/ East Asian popular culture, including music and television. My interest in the popular culture also influenced my interest in the history (mainly from the number of historical dramas I’ve watched, though they are not the most accurate historical sources) and as an International Affairs major, I’ve also noticed how the entertainment industry in East Asia works to keep a degree of influence over other countries in the region, making me interested in pop culture from that point of view as well.

Also, after taking three semesters of Chinese at community college with my teacher who was from Shanghai and learning about her experiences growing up there in the 1940s and 1950s, also made me really interested in modern Chinese history (I was honestly very excited to learn this class was offered!).

For my 485, since I have to do a research topic that fulfills the history and security and conflict studies requirements,  I have decided to do a topic in East Asia inspired by my East Asia in World Affairs class, and tie in the historical relationship between Japan and China/Korea and how it has impacted its diplomatic relations in the present day.

RLOG #1: Family & Marriage

The Sung, like much of China’s ethical, political, and social philosophy, was heavily influenced by Confucian ideals, which permeated every aspect of life, including family & marriage. The Meanings of Marriage chapter opens up with the concept of ancestor veneration, a concept of great importance in Confucianism, and its tie with marriage. This shows that the Sung is a set of guidelines heavily based off of this traditional school of thought. First and foremost, the concept of filial piety in Confucianism, especially for females, was the basic ideal that every child must respect their parents and their decisions for them regardless of their personal feelings. Confucian society was strict, and it was even stricter for females, as evidenced by the lengthier and harsher punishments as well as a more antagonistic social stigma toward her if she acted outside her prescribed role as a wife and mother. This limited her identity to that of “someone’s wife” or “someone’s mother,” taking away any defining personal identity besides those two terms. She was also expected to mourn longer and had a stricter set of mourning rule, in some cases also influenced by her parents. Age, at least for a woman was also a huge factor in how easily she was able to get married. Generally, wives were preferred relatively young, either in their late teens or early twenties, when they were at a desirable developmental stage, emphasizing the idea that women were mainly seen as an accessory for the man. The man, however, was allowed to marry a little later, though the age difference was usually a couple years difference between him and his wife, but he was also expected to be married by thirty. To the wive’s parents, marriage was of the utmost importance and preoccupied plenty of their time: some spent a good deal of time looking for appropriate husbands, mainly men of high status, preferably higher than the daughter’s, and a good financial situation. Men, on the other hand, were mostly influenced by a woman’s looks and to some degree also status, showing the difference in how important it was for a woman to find a good match versus how important it was for a man. The topic of marriage within the family was also an important issue. As a whole, it prohibited individuals of the same surname from marrying one another as well as family members up to four generations. However, this rule was much more flexible if the individual was a cousin from the maternal side of the family. How much time parents thought about marriage and how much emphasis Chinese society put into its importance showed how much marriage meant to the people and how it impacted daily lives by putting into practice Confucian ideals.