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Title: The ownership and collection of Chinese material culture by women in Britain, c. 1890- c. 1935
Author: Cheang, Sarah.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis explores the role of Chinese things in the lives of women in Britain from the end of the nineteenth century until the mid-1930s. Of central concern is the way in which British femininities were constructed through the domestic ownership of Chinese objects. Considering a range of 'feminine' engagements with Chinese material culture, this study also enquires into imperialistic twentieth-century nostalgias for 'Old China' and the cultural status of Chinese objects in the social construction of feminine identities. Chapter One outlines the aims and scope of the thesis. Then, beginning with the availability of Chinese commodities to British women, Chapter Two examines the retailing of Chinese goods in Britain, focusing on the London department stores of Liberty's, Whiteley's and Debenham and Freebody's. Chapter Three explores an alternative source of Chinese goods, the missionary sale and exhibition, which offered significant opportunities to women of all classes for contact with things from China. The fourth chapter considers the gendering of Chinese things when incorporated into British domestic interiors, including the creation of 'Chinese' rooms, and the wearing of 'Chinese' costume as fashionable dress. Chapter Five focuses on the Pekingese dog, a breed whose ownership was explicitly gendered 'female' and which was bred in Britain from specimens said to have been stolen from Chinese palaces. Chapter Six turns to the subject of collectors, presenting two contrasting case studies: Lady Ellen Thomas-Stanford (1848-1932), who created a uniquely obsessive collection of Chinese ceramic lions, and Queen Mary (1867-1953), whose interest in Chinese jades and 'Chinese' interiors became incorporated into her public identity as Queen Consort. Finally, Chapter Seven reflects on the thesis as a whole, and considers some other potential avenues for future development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available