The 2021 Capstone Editing Early Career Academic Research Grant for Women
We are so happy to announce that the winner of the 2021 Capstone Editing Early Career Academic Research Grant for Women is Dr Tin Kei Wong, Lecturer in Asian Studies at the University of Adelaide.
Dr Wong is currently writing her first monograph, Preaching Womanhood: American Protestant Missionary Laura M. White and Her Chinese Translations of English Fiction.
The funding will assist Dr Wong in completing the research for her monograph and preparing it for submission to an academic press. Dr Wong will also use the funding to present two research presentations—at the Fourth IABA Asia Pacific Conference in November 2021 and at the Chinese Studies Association of Australia 17th Biennial Conference in December. During this trip to Canberra, Dr Wong will also conduct research in the National Library of Australia and Menzies Library at Australian National University, whose holdings of Asian scholarly materials are considered the most comprehensive in Australia.
What is womanhood? What roles are women expected to play at home, in society, and in the nation? These questions are constantly discussed, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made us even more aware of women’s roles. During this time, when the home and workplace have fused, women are increasingly realising the greater caring and household responsibilities imposed on them. Although most men and women enjoy equal rights in many so-called egalitarian societies, values such as sacrifice and suffering, which lead to unfair expectations and hence gender inequality, are associated with the female gender role. Occupied with the unpaid yet essential work to run a household, women have fewer opportunities and less time to participate in society as active stakeholders in the economy. So, where did these ideas about femininity and gender roles come from?
Dr Wong’s research investigates the intellectual history of the ideas of womanhood, specifically the flow of ideas between nations when China was in a national crisis at the turn of the twentieth century. Interestingly, at that point in time, Chinese women were taught to be self-sacrificial housekeepers to ‘save the country’. The monograph examines the concept of ideal womanhood embedded in Chinese translations of English fiction by Laura M. White (1867–1937), an American Protestant female missionary. At the turn of the nineteenth century, many American missionary women sailed to China to ‘save’ their ‘heathen sisters’ (Chinese women) from ‘uncivilised’ social customs. These female missionaries, whom Carol C. Chin (2016) calls ‘beneficent imperialists’, believed in the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race and felt an obligation to export their ‘advanced’ ideal womanhood to China. White was one such missionary with multiple roles in education and publication. During a career spanning four decades (1891–1934), not only was she the principal of Nanjing Huiwen Girls’ School and editor-in-chief of the first Christian women’s magazine, the Woman’s Messenger, she was also a translator of numerous Chinese translations of English fiction targeted at Chinese women. In these roles, White explicitly stated her goal of teaching Chinese women the ‘spirit of service’, which is to practice ‘self-sacrifice’, as the core spirit of womanhood in the texts she created. This book scrutinises the gender notions in her translations to investigate why and how this translator taught a particular concept of womanhood to early–twentieth century Chinese women through translation.