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The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China


Woman as a political trope had been essential to the Chinese Communist Party’s state vision of socialist modernization after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Party valued women’s labor and devoted to emancipating it from the domestic realm so that women could be mobilized to actively participate in the collective socialist construction. Associating the figure of women with modernity is not an unprecedented strategy, for during the early twentieth century the “Modern Girl” embodying the essence of Chinese modernity had already become a conspicuous cultural icon in various kinds of visual cultural products. This paper investigates the ways in which females’ public visual images were consciously constructed in the two different historical periods in order to cater to particular political or commercial schemes. It argues that while those images objectively capture the reality of social modernity to some extents, they also imply the artists’ imaginary of an ideal vision of modernization. By registering female figures as the center for presentation, they were inscribed with males’ desires through envisioning desirable female images that would correspond to their expectations of the concreteness of modernity.


calendar posters, propaganda posters, modernity, female image

Cite this paper

Journal of Literature and Art Studies, December 2022, Vol. 12, No. 12, 1317-1335


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