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March is Women’s History Month, which means throughout the month HEB will highlight premiere titles in Women’s Studies that can be found in our collection. If you would like a Women’s Studies specific title list from HEB, please email Chris Plattsmier. Also, don’t forget you can recommend a title for inclusion in the HEB collection on our title recommendation page.

HEB’s first spotlight celebrating Women’s History Month is on Women in Asia. HEB proudly works with scholars from the Association for Asian Studies, American Historical Association, and others to curate a list of titles in Asian Studies focusing on an array of subjects and geographic regions. Each title below earned an award or prize for its contribution to its respective field.

Click the link or cover to be taken to the main title page.

Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism

by Miranda Shaw, Princeton University Press (1994)

Winner of the James Henry Breasted Prize (AHA)

Included in the ATLA Special Series in the HEB Collection

“A groundbreaking work that calls for a serious rethinking of the scholarly discourse on the role of women and the feminine in Tantric traditions in South Asia”— Excerpt from a review by Dr. Liz Wilson, Miami University. Appeared in History of Religions, Vol 36, No. 1 (Aug., 1996), pp.60-64

“Readers within Buddhist studies will find a wealth of previously untranslated verses written by female Tantric adepts, along with the Tibetan originals printed in the endnotes, as well as valuable reinterpretation of the place of women in the Tantric tradition. Although specialists may find suspect the unambiguously positive portrayal of women in Tantric Buddhism, Shaw’s argument should stimulate more fruitful discussion about the position of women throughout Buddhist history, as well as discussion about our own academic representation of this position. For those readers outside of Buddhist studies, Passionate Enlightenment is a lively, accessible study of an often confusing and forbidding tradition, a study that should spur further cross-disciplinary discussion about the representation and role of women in religion.”— Excerpt from a review by Dr. Jacob N. Kinnard, Iliff School of Theology. Appeared in The Journal of Religion, Vol. 75, No. 3 (Jul., 1995), pp.455-457




Reproducing Women: Medicine, Metaphor, and Childbirth in Late Imperial China

by Yi-Li Wu, University of California Press (2010)

Winner of the Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize (HSS)

“In this well-written and extensively researched work on traditional medicine in late imperial China, Wu examines how medical literature in the Ming and Qing dynasties considered fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, collectively referred to as juke, or medicine for women. Wu presents important findings that contradict earlier interpretations of traditional Chinese medicine.” — Excerpt from a review by Dr. Tina Phillips Johnson, Saint Vincent College. Appeared in The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Autumn 2011), pp.330-331

“In this wonderfully rich and sophisticated study, vividly illustrated with case histories, Yi-Li Wu explains how and in what context theories and practices of “medicine for women” [fuke] evolved between about 1600 and 1900. Wu draws a fascinating and convincingly complex picture of how late imperial medical specialists thought and reasoned about reproductive processes as well as individual cases.”  — Excerpt from a review by Dr. Francesca Bray, University of Edinburgh. Appeared in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 46, No. 1, (Fall 2012), pp.155-157



The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past

by Gail Hershatter, University of California Press (2011)

Winner of the John Kelly Memorial Prize (AHA)

“Reading this book is an eye-opening experience even for a Chinese Reader. As Hershatter notes, her research group is a doubly marginalised group that has been invisible and unheard for a long time.” — Excerpt from a review by Dr. Wu Weiyi. Appeared in China Perspectives, No. 4 (96), (2013), pp.78-79

“The Gender of Memory is a work of outstanding scholarship and significance. Hershatter examines life in rural Shaanxi through the memories of elderly women regarding the years immediately preceding and following the formation of the People’s Republic of China. e transformations that took place in rural China during the 1940s and 1950s affected women’s lives in startling and dramatic ways. We read of the women’s experience of the tumult of war, their negotiations of old and new marriage customs, their pride and anxiety in assuming public positions of community authority, their hope and despair in land reform and collectivization and their desperation in times of famine, loss and poverty. Hershatter’s research narrates the rich diversity of individual women’s lives with sensitivity and respect, within a fully contextualized, rigorously documented scholarly history.”— Excerpt from a review by Dr. Louise Edwards, The University of Hong Kong. Appeared in The China Journal, No. 69 (January 2013), pp.227-229


The Talented Women of the Zhang Family

by Susan Mann, University of California Press (2007)

Winner of the John K. Fairbank Prize (AHA)

“If Mann’s were purely a work of creative historical recreation, this might be more of a problem, but it is much more than that. For, while the heart of the book is indeed the recreation of the intimate lives of these women, Mann by no means abandons her role as historian. Again taking her inspiration from Sima Qian, each of her “scenes” is followed by a section entitled “The historian says…” in which she stands apart from the portrait or scene just depicted, and carefully contextualizes it. These sections, and especially the chapter-long epilogue also entitled “The historian says,” are packed with information and insights of a rather different kind, insights that will no doubt inspire further discussion among scholars and students alike.” — Excerpt from a review by Dr. Beata Grant, Washington University in St. Louis. Appeared in T’oung Pao, Vol. 95, Fasc. 4/5 (2009), pp.440-444

“Serious scholars will enjoy this book both for the story and for the manner of its telling. The more casual the reader the more she may want to focus on the most fictionalized sections. She can rest assured that they are well within the realm of what might have been. At the same time specialists in both women’s history and in late imperial China will learn new ways of understanding traditional Chinese women in the era before modernization took hold.” — Excerpt from a review by Dr. Ellen Widmer, Wellesley College. Appeared in The Women’s Review of Books, Vol. 25, No. 5 (Sep. – Oct., 2008), pp.23-24