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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Other Epistemologies Online Lecture Series 2.0: Gendering National Sacrifices: The Making of New Heroines in China’s Counter-COVID-19 TV Series


Assoc. Prof. Zhou Yunyun (University of Oslo, Norway)


12. Oktober 2023, 14:00 - 15:45 Uhr


Online lecture. Please register here:


From February 2020 to the end of 2021, China’s state-controlled media focused on creating its “victorious” narrative of combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on two high-profile and COVID-19-themed TV series that aim to rewrite the collective memories of the Wuhan lockdown as part of state’s affective governance strategies, this lecture will examine the gendered nature of state narratives by dissecting the representation of national heroines of the pandemic. It demonstrates the centrality of heterosexual families and gender performances in romanticizing individual sacrifices and mass suffering. Unlike the socialist-era role models, the personal weakness and emotional flaws of China’s new heroines are tactically displayed to enhance emotional authenticity and resonate with contemporary audiences. Yet these state narratives reflect only stereotypical depictions of femininity within a hierarchical gender order in post-reform China, where moralized womanhood is imbued with a sacrificial attitude that serves to discipline China’s female citizens.


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies - Chinese Studies