Nationalism did not save China, as the country disintegrated after the 1911 revolution. Warlords were able to control different parts of the country and they battled each other for power. This was further compounded by Russian–Japanese rivalry and the Japanese invasion. War seemed endless as the Chinese people were subjected to the civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists after the end of the Second World War.
This chapter examines the Mao era (1949–1976), when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched many initiatives, the Great Leap Forward being one, to advance the country economically. But differences within the CCP led to a fierce power struggle that resulted in the Cultural Revolution. This brought the country to the brink of collapse and unprecedented suffering to the Chinese people and economy.
The death of Mao ended the Cultural Revolution and opened the way for Deng Xiaoping to undertake much-needed reform. Post-Mao economic reform has pulled millions out of poverty and enabled China to catch up with Western countries/economies. But this has been accomplished without political reform, which has led to a series problems that will continue to plague the CCP.
Women provide a great window for us to gauge the transformation of modern China. This chapter examines the lives and works of Chinese women from the late Qing to the post-Mao era. Although many historians believe that they were oppressed, this chapter will challenge this verdict on women’s liberation and it will also introduce students to the growing body of complex scholarship.
There is a potentially bewildering array of sources for historical material culture research – this chapter explains in detail the potentials and the pitfalls of using different kinds of repositories and also where to locate material in a range of environments including museums, galleries, historic houses and institutions. The chapter provides a step-by-step guide to using museum documentation to locate relevant collections and also discusses online catalogues, which are commonly a first port of call for the material culture researcher.
This final chapter considers how women art workers’ engagement in the Arts and Crafts was influenced by the changing context of modern society: of suffrage, a world at war, and the build-up of frustrations at the lack of opportunities at the Guild Hall. Disagreements about how artistic women should perform their professional roles had raged across society since the late nineteenth century, but debates reached a head in the early twentieth century. There was a rupture in opinions between women art workers about the best strategies for public and private representation, the meaning of artistic equality, and the implications of suffrage militancy on gender relations. The chapter then discusses the effect of the First World War in further reshaping the priorities of women art workers. The war brought about a surprising range of professional, commercial, medical, and philanthropic opportunities, but also ushered in a more nationalistic framing to the Arts and Crafts. Ultimately, the combined effects of suffrage and war led to an irrevocable shift in the mind-sets of many women art workers, which took them further away from the Hall and into the city, to the exhibitions, events, and spaces more receptive to their social, political, and cultural agendas.
This chapter highlights how careful and rigorous thinking through of the research questions at an early stage gives confidence in the methodology and justification for using the object or collection as key primary sources. This chapter will show how object-specific questions create important and vital studies in and of themselves, but also how they can contribute to overarching research questions with wider historical significance.
Ten Lessons tells the story of modern China from the eve of the First Opium War to the Xi Jinping era. This was a most turbulent period of time as the Middle Kingdom was torn apart by opium, Christianity, modernisation, imperialists, nationalists, warlords and the Japanese, and as China reinvented and reasserted itself on the world stage in the post-Mao era. Unlike the handful of existing textbooks, which narrate without primary sources and without engaging with academic debate, Ten Lessons is devoted to students, from university to high school, as it uses extensive primary sources to tell the story of modern China and introduces them to scholarship and debates in the field of Chinese history and beyond. This will help students understand the real issues involved, navigate their way through the maze of existing literature and undertake independent research for essays and dissertations. The book also points out gaps and inadequacies in the existing scholarship, to encourage postgraduate studies. It is ‘mental furniture’ for the increasing army of journalists, NGO workers, diplomats, government officials, businesspeople and travellers of all kinds, who often need a good source of background information before they head to China.
Women Art Workers constitutes the first comprehensive history of the network of women who worked at the heart of the English Arts and Crafts movement from the 1870s to the 1930s. Challenging the long-standing assumption that the Arts and Crafts simply revolved around celebrated male designers like William Morris, this book instead offers a new social and cultural account of the movement, which simultaneously reveals the breadth of the imprint of women art workers upon the making of modern society. Thomas provides unprecedented insight into how women – working in fields such as woodwork, textiles, sculpture, painting, and metalwork – navigated new authoritative roles as ‘art workers’ by asserting expertise across a range of interconnected cultures so often considered in isolation: from the artistic to the professional, intellectual, entrepreneurial, and domestic. Through examination of newly discovered institutional archives and private papers, and a wide range of unstudied advertisements, letters, manuals, photographs, and calling cards, Women Art Workers elucidates the critical importance of the spaces around which women conceptualised alternative creative and professional lifestyles: guild halls, exhibitions, homes, studios, workshops, and the cityscape. Shattering the traditional periodisation of the movement as ‘Victorian’, this research reveals that the early twentieth century was a critical juncture at which women art workers became ever more confident in promoting their own vision of the Arts and Crafts. Shaped by their precarious gendered positions, they opened up the movement to a wider range of social backgrounds and interests, and redirected the movement’s radical potential into contemporary women-centred causes.
This chapter guides researchers through the writing up process. While much of this advice will apply generally to historical writing, this chapter pays particular attention to specific skills and conventions associated with writing about material culture – the use of images and diagrams, appropriate referencing styles and acknowledgements. The chapter discusses writing about material culture in different contexts, for example dissertations and theses as well as object labels and blog posts.