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Fiction

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The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
Classic 1930s story about peasant hardships and survival in rural China.

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Inheritance: A Novel - Lan Samantha Chang
In 1931, abandoned after their mother's suicide, the young Junan and her sister, Yinan, make a pact never to leave each other. The two girls are inseparable--until Junan enters into an arranged marriage and finds herself falling in love with her soldier husband. When the Japanese invade China, Junan and her husband are separated. Unable to follow him to the wartime capital, Junan makes the fateful decision to send her sister after him. Inheritance traces the echo of betrayal through generations and explores the elusive nature of trust.

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Becoming Madame Mao - Anchee Min
Fictionalized portrait of one of the most powerful women of the 20th century, combining history and the myth of Madame Mao.

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel - Lisa See
In nineteenth century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, or "old same," in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The two women exchange messages written on silk fans and handkerchieves using nu shu, a unique language that women created in order to communicate in secret, sharing their experiences, but when a misunderstanding arises, their friendship threatens to tear apart.

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Women of the Silk: A Novel - Gail Tsukiyama
Set in rural China in 1926, this is a story of women who work in a silk factory and launch the first strike the village has ever seen.

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Shanghai Girls: A Novel - Lisa See
In 1937 Shanghai - the Paris of Asia - twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree - until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, from the Chinese countryside to the shores of America.

 

China Blue

Examines the conditions of a factory in Shaxi, China, where mostly young women workers produce blue jeans for the western market in the age of globalization. Download a discussion guide (PDF) from Bullfrog Films.

 

Documentary Films

China Blue
Examines the conditions of a factory in Shaxi, China, where mostly young women workers produce blue jeans for the western market in the age of globalization.

China from the Inside
Episode 2 is titled "Women of the Country" and talks about the past and future for Chinese women.

Chinese Foot Binding: The Vanishing Lotus
Today there are fewer than 400 women with bound feet among the 1.25 billion people of China. Most of them are over 80 years old. Some of these women tell us of the event that branded their lives with its singular mark.

Half the Sky
Fifty years ago the Chinese Communist revolution promised women equality after thousands of years of subservience to men. But has the revolution reversed the tradition of tyranny towards women? As this film shows, today's Chinese women have little more control over their lives than that of their ancestors. Their concerns are neglected while their burdens increase.

Heart of the Dragon: Marrying
Uses the wedding of a young rural couple in Zhejiang Province to show both the survival of traditional marriage customs and the changes brought by the Revolution. Also examines the status of women in contemporary China and discusses China's one child policy.

Small Happiness
A documentary which investigates the conditions of life for Chinese women today (1980s) and in the past. Visits the village of Long Bow where inhabitants reveal progress toward women's equality, despite the seeming oppression when observed from a Western viewpoint.

 

Feature Films

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Set in 19th-century China, two master warriors are faced with their greatest challenge when the treasured Green Destiny sword is stolen. A young aristocratic woman prepares for an arranged marriage, but soon reveals her superior fighting talents and her romantic past. As each warrior battles for justice, they come face-to-face with their worst enemy, and the enduring power of love.

Girl from Hunan
Mixing lyricism, irony and social criticism, this film from the People's Republic of China is the story of a pampered, lively 12-year-old girl who, at the turn of the century, is taken to a remote village and married to a 2-year-old boy. As she approaches womanhood, she develops a sisterly affection for her toddling husband but finds more fulfilling companionship with a young farmer. The illicit affair, however, places her at risk of punishment according to the village's harsh measures against adultery. Freed from the restrictions imposed by the Cultural Revolution, this example of New Chinese Cinema captures the textures and rhythms of rural life while recognizing the brutality and backwardness of feudal structures.

Ju Dou
In 1920s China, a young woman who is abused by her elderly husband falls in love with his nephew.

Not One Less
A young woman is ordered to a remote Chinese village to be a substitute teacher. Barely older than her students, the shy girl is charged with keeping the class intact for one month or she won't be paid. When one of her students disappears into the city to find work, the stubborn teacher is determined to follow the boy and bring him back to school. Once in the city, her simple peasant pleas fall on deaf ears, and only when the local television sympathizes does her search bear fruit.

Raise the Red Lantern
1991 film about an educated woman (Gong Li) who is sent off to become the newest wife of a feudal nobleman in 1920s China.

The Road Home
As a son helps his mother arrange for the burial of his father in the traditional Chinese custom of his mother's village, the beautiful and touching story of his parent's courtship unfolds. His father was from the city and came to his mother's village to become the schoolmaster. In the days of arranged marriages, the son discovers that his parents marriage was the first marriage based on love.

The Story of Qiu Ju
A stoic peasant woman demands an apology when her husband is kicked by the village chief. When the chief refuses to apologize, she sets off on a futile trek through the complicated Chinese court system-- a battle against bureaucracy and indifference.

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Biography

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Bound Feet and Western Dress: A Memoir - Pang-Mei Chang

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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China - Jung Chang

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The Chopsticks-Fork Principle: A Memoir and Manual - Cathy Bao Bean

 

Non Fiction

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Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China - Leslie T. Chang
Examines the lives of female migrant factory workers in China, focusing on the experiences of two young women and including the author's story of her family's migration within China and to the West.

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Changing Identities of Chinese Women - Elisabeth Croll
The author uses case studies, memories and self perceptions, together with historical data, to reflect on the experience of Chinese women in various phases of reform and revolution, and to contrast this experience with the rhetoric of each period.

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Engendering the Chinese Revolution: Radical Women, Communist Politics, and Mass Movements in the 1920s - Christina K. Gilmartin
Includes building of Communist Party in Shanghai in 1920-25; mobilization of women in Shanghai, Beijing and Southern Provinces from 1925-27; breakdown between Nationalist and Communist parties.

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Visual Voices: 100 Photographs of Village China by the Women of Yunnan Province
Collection of photographs taken by Chinese village women which capture themes of daily life in Yunnan province. Captions accompanying the images are in the women's own words,and are printed in Chinese and English.

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Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China - Wang Ping

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The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices - Xinran Xue; Esther Tyldesley (Translator)
In this collection, Xinran, a Chinese radio host, brings us the stories that affected her most, and offers a graphically detailed, altogether unprecedented work of oral history.

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