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Title: Victorian and Confucian womanhood viewed by western women missionaries, Annie Baird, Ellasue Wagner, Jean Perry, and Lillias Underwood
Author: Cha, Eun-Hee
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 9577
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis considers Victorian and (Korean) Confucian domestic womanhood in the narratives and writings of western female missionaries, in particular Annie Baird (1864-1916), Ellasue Wagner (1881-1957), Jean Perry (1863-1935) and Lillias Underwood (1851-1921). In the missionary project Woman's Work for Woman, which was aimed at bringing Korean womanhood to emancipation and ‘modernity’, western female missionaries and Korean women met in a cultural encounter in which they shared the common experience of ‘separate’ spheres based on gender. For both groups, the ideal place and proper role for women was at home, as opposed to men’s role in the public realm. Yet despite the gender restraints of Victorian domestic womanhood on western female missionaries and of Confucian domestic womanhood on Korean women, both sides were enriched and challenged by this encounter: far from home and exposed to the challenges of a new country, the westerners were able to break through some of their boundaries, while the Korean women conveyed to the missionaries their own sense of independent womanhood, which did not always conform to Confucian values. However, these changes are not always reflected in the major narratives of the female missionaries. Often, the Korean Confucian women’s agency is not recognized clearly, while the alteration in the western women seems to be missing entirely. Yet this absence itself is revealing, pointing to the paradox of the encounter between western and Korean womanhood: the western women missionaries fought against the Confucian abasement of women without seeking any betterment of their own standing as female missionaries within the context of the ideal of Victorian sanctified womanhood; while strong Korean women fought for equal rights, but without considering themselves as agents of a purely indigenous effort. In highlighting the critical factors that contributed to the transformation of each group of women as a result of their cultural encounter, this thesis aims to fill a critical research gap, by exploring what has so far been hidden or ignored. These aspects include the Korean Confucian women’s agency in evangelical work, linked with their strong economic status; and the changes brought about in the female missionaries through their encounter with the Korean women, along with the personal challenges and new experiences they faced in the mission field, circumstances that could not be accounted for within the western Victorian model of womanhood. Despite the ‘restrained’ image of western female missionaries in the narratives, and the apparent lack of critical reflection, this thesis argues that in their cultural encounter, both female missionaries and Korean women acted as agents of influence and change within a wider context that needs to be looked at from socio-cultural, post-colonial and feminist angles.
Supervisor: Vinzent, Markus ; Janz, Paul Dwight Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available