Course Code

CHES2101/ CCSS2120

Course Name

Chinese Family and Marriage


Wednesdays 10:30--12:15




Dr. Lynn Sun

Teaching Assistant

Liu Yiling

Yang Pu

Course Description

Family matters. According to Confucianism, it is the family not the individual that has been the fundamental unit of Chinese society. After Mao’s socialist revolutions and Deng’s market-oriented economic reforms, how have family structures, courtship patterns, and gender relations been changing across different regions and groups? And what new ethical configurations and new forms of inequality are emerging in the process? This English-taught course goes beyond the idealized family patterns to examine critically recent transformations in family forms, reproductive technologies, politicized sexualities, and gender relations in China. After an introductory discussion of key concepts and debates on Chinese family and marriage, it will move on to specific ethnographic case studies to highlight the connections between everyday practices and large-scale political and socioeconomic processes. Readings, drawn from anthropology, history, and sociology, examine the Chinese (Han and non-Han) family systems, marriage patterns and gender relations as well as their transformations during the Maoist and post-Mao eras. Case studies of contemporary social challenges facing Chinese families will also be discussed in depth.

Course Outline

Jan. 11 Introduction: Chinese Family in Transformation

Jan. 18 Kinship and Lineage

Jan. 25 No Class, Lunar New Year Vacation

Feb. 1 Marriage, Family, and Gender I

Feb. 8 Marriage, Family, and Gender II

Feb. 15 Reproduction and Childrearing

Feb. 22 Love and Sexuality

Mar. 1 Family and Marriage among Non-Han Groups

Mar. 8 NO Class, Reading Week

Mar. 15 Contemporary challenges I: Doing Family

Mar. 22 Contemporary challenges II: Parenting

Mar. 29 Contemporary challenges III: Property

Apr. 5 NO Class, Public Holiday

Apr. 12 Contemporary challenges IV: “Left-over Women”…and Men

Apr. 19 Course Wrap-up and Individual Consultation

Assessment & Assignments

1. Class Participation (15%): Regular, active attendance in lectures and tutorials is an important
aspect of the learning experience in this course and is, therefore, both expected and required.
All reading must be completed prior to the class meeting for which they are scheduled.
Unexcused absences will result in a loss of points, and students with more than 3
unexcused absences will receive no points for class participation. Extreme lateness will
be counted as an absence.

2. Précis (20%): Students need to write a 700-to-800-word précis (in 12-point Times New
Roman font, 1-inch margin at all sides, single-spaced, page numbered, with word count in the
end) to summarize and evaluate one of the listed readings for this exercise. Students should
submit a soft copy (in PDF form) of the précis to Blackboard together with a signed
Veriguide receipt any time before Mar. 29, 2023.

3. Group Presentation (25%): Starting from Week 4, each student will join a group to present a
topic on marriage and family in contemporary China (according to the weekly theme one
chooses) for 20-25 minutes during the tutorials with the aid of PowerPoint or other visual
materials. Students will be asked to sign up for a group in Week 2.
Your cardinal job is to raise critical questions and lead the class to discuss particular issues
that your group finds important. While you need to prepare your presentation based on the
course readings provided by the below weekly reading list, feel free to bring in outside
materials (news stories, interesting cases, illustrations, film clips, charts/figures, etc.) and use a
variety of formats (role play, debate, games etc.) to facilitate learning. As facilitators, it is
important for you to think through these exercises carefully before coming to class, planning it
step by step with clear instructions.

4. Final Exam (40%): Students will have a take-home exam, answering two essay questions by
synthesizing and applying some of the theoretical arguments and/or case studies from the
readings. Each answer should be a short essay of about 1000 to 1200 words (in 12-point Times
New Roman font, 1-inch margin at all sides, single-spaced, page numbered, with word count in
the end of the essay). A soft copy of the essays (in PDF form) together with a signed
Veriguide receipt must be submitted to Blackboard by the end of Apr. 26 (Wednesday),
2023. Unexcused late submission will NOT be accepted.

Honesty in Academic Work

Students should submit written assignments to the Veriguide system and print out the Veriguide receipt and scan it into a PDF file before submitting to the Blackboard. See the website: Any cases of plagiarism will be severely penalized and reported to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, which could result in failure or expulsion from the University.