Women at Work: Reconstructing Nügong through Text and Image

Collaborative Group

Dr. Buyun Chen




Swarthmore College


This collaborative reading workshop shall add to our understanding of the everyday practices of nügong – translated variously as “women’s work,” or “womanly work,” – through an interdisciplinary approach to the texts on the production of textiles in Ming-Qing China (1550-1750). In this workshop, we reconstruct the material conditions of women’s textile work by identifying how, where, and with what women worked. We bring together social and cultural historians, historians of technology, and art historians to participate in cross-disciplinary close readings of the images and texts, which depicted how women spun and wove cloth. We aim to clarify the historical relationship between gender and labor by engaging with the underlying conditions of knowledge and skill formation.