Looks at China’s Ginling College, the women’s missionary institution of higher learning that developed a discourse of family, recasting the Chinese Confucian family ideal as a female and Christian one.
The institutional history of Ginling College is arguably a family history. Ginling, a Christian, women's college in Nanjing founded by Western missionaries, saw itself as a family. The school's leaders built on the Confucian ideal to envision a feminized, Christian family—one that would spread Christianity and uplift the family that was the Chinese nation. Exploring the various incarnations of the trope of the "Ginling family," Jin Feng takes a microscopic view by emphasizing personal, subjective perspectives from the written and oral records of the Chinese and American women who created and sustained the school. Even when using more seemingly ordinary official documents, Feng seeks to shed light on the motives and dynamic interactions that created them and the impact they had on individual lives. Using this perspective, Feng questions the standard characterization of missionary higher education as simply Western cultural imperialism to show a process of influence and cultural exchange.
Jin Feng is Associate Professor of Chinese and Japanese at Grinnell College and the author of The New Woman in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Fiction.