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Yang Yinyu (1884-1938): China's First Female University President and the Educational Reforms in Her Era

Ding, Yiyun (2019) Yang Yinyu (1884-1938): China's First Female University President and the Educational Reforms in Her Era. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis recreates the life and world of a misinterpreted female educator, Yang Yinyu, who is portrayed as a counter-revolutionary villain in contemporary Chinese middle-school textbooks. Little is known about this individual except that she was the target of a radical student movement that aimed to expel her from her position as the president of Beijing Teachers University for Women in 1925. Despite being the first female university president in Chinese history, Yang was accused by the student protesters of being ‘feudal’ and ‘conservative’. The influential left-wing writer Lu Xun, then a professor at the university, criticised Yang as a ‘ruthless mother-in-law’ and supported the students’ violent protest. As Lu was promoted by the Chinese Communist Party as a ‘spiritual leader’ after 1949, his critiques shaped historians’ understanding of the anti-Yang movement and its role in the history of the Republic, in both Chinese and Western academia. This thesis deconstructs this historical myth-making. By exploring the scattered materials left by Yang in the cities in which she lived, across China, Japan, and the US, it puts the pieces of her world together. It argues that Yang was a dedicated educator, who emphasised both modern pedagogies and moral education. Her goal in creating a national university for teacher training was overshadowed by student radicalism and political struggles in the anti-Yang movement. Furthermore, this journey to reappraise Yang’s life on her own terms provides us with a microscopic perspective to understand the less-explored areas in early-twentieth-century educational reforms: the roles of the earliest professional educators whose efforts lay the foundation for the meaning of modern education we perceive today. The degree of educators’ involvement or opposition to radical politics should not be the sole standard used in assessing their lives and contributions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Yiyun Ding
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 13:27
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2019 13:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23909

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