Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Mass Communications

First Advisor

Berkowitz, Daniel A.

First Committee Member

Durham, Meenakshi Gigi

Second Committee Member

Havens, Timothy

Third Committee Member

Oates, Tom

Fourth Committee Member

Vogan, Travis


Television drama is a crucial site where notions of gender, as well as other cultural issues, are formed. Since 2010, the Chinese television industry has shown a growing interest in representing feminism-inflected content, most evident in cashing in on serials centering on a strong female character. These women-centric dramas mark a departure from previous constructions of gender, women, and feminism due to their narrative centrality of women, portrayal of strong female leads, expansion of women’s spheres of action, and endorsement of female power and independence. This dissertation explores the phenomenon, examining what feminist discourses are being represented by juxtaposing them with the social context of gender in China and interrogating how they are shaped by industrial practices. The factors at play in the serial production that have surfaced in this study mainly include female television professionals, textual and narrative conventions, considerations of audience profile, and party-state cultural leadership. Based on textual analysis and interviews with professionals associated with several representative women-centric television dramas, this dissertation found that these social and industrial forces collaboratively shaped the feminist discourses into various forms including the post-feminist and neoliberal feminist tendency, a common-ground form of feminism shared by various sections of society, and a vision of gender that combines traditional feminine roles and a powerful presence in the public sphere. The research raises issues about the role of the television industry in cultivating public understandings of feminism and the relationship between televisual forms of feminism and feminist politics.


Chinese television, Feminism, Gender, Media production, Neoliberalism, Television studies


x, 141 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 130-139).


Copyright © 2018 Qi Ling

Available for download on Friday, July 03, 2020