An Introduction to Chinese Culture through the Family

Edited by Howard Giskin & Bettye S. Walsh

Subjects: Anthropology
Series: SUNY series in Asian Studies Development
Paperback : 9780791450482, 249 pages, July 2001
Hardcover : 9780791450475, 249 pages, July 2001

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations



Roger T. Ames

1 Written and Spoken Chinese: Expression of Culture and Heritage
Linda S. Pickle

2 Meeting Chinese Philosophy
Vance Cope-Kasten

3 The Role of the Visual Arts in Confucian Society
Lawrence E. Butler

4 Women and Gender
Mary Gallagher

5 Chinese Music and the Family
Kathleen M. Higgins

6 Chinese Folktales and the Family
Howard Giskin

7 Chinese Literature in the Confucian and Modern Traditions
Fay Beauchamp

8 Jia *, Family, * and the Chinese House
Judy Schaaf

9 Family in the Seventh Art – Modern Chinese Film: An Analysis of Red Sorghum, Raise the Red Lantern, and To Live
Bettye S. Walsh

Selected Annotated Readings
Chinese Dynasties
Pronunciation Suggestions
Notes on Contributors

Uses the concept of family, both literally and metaphorically to provide an introduction to Chinese culture.


An Introduction to Chinese Culture through the Family covers a central element of Chinese culture, the idea of family, or jia. Written for both beginners and specialists, this book considers the role of family—literally, metaphorically, and as an organizing principle—in the creation of the Chinese worldview. Individual chapters explore philosophy, art, language, music, folk literature, fiction, architecture, film, and women and gender.

Howard Giskin is Associate Professor of English at Appalachian State University and the editor of Chinese Folktales. Bettye S. Walsh is Professor of English at Piedmont Virginia Community College.


"I like the rich diversity of important and well-written essays thematically woven around the 'root metaphor' of jia, the Chinese family. The topic of family is perennially important and is currently one of the central issues in social, moral, and political discussions. Many are turning to the notion of the family as the bedrock model for all human relationships and institutions. Chinese culture and 'things Chinese' are often viewed with puzzlement and a sense of confusion. By way of contrast this book takes the readers into the heart of Chinese culture and opens it up in ways easy to understand, yet shows, to both the novice and the scholar, the subtle interconnectedness of Chinese culture and life. This is a valuable work in Chinese studies." — Keith W. Krasemann, author of Questions for the Soul: An Introduction to Philosophy