Research Interests: History of women, gender, and material cultures in early modern China
Professor Ko is a cultural historian who works on gender, technology and art in early modern China. Her latest monograph is The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China (University of Washington Press, 2017). In her first book, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China (Stanford University Press, 1994), she retrieved the social and emotional lives of women from the poetry they wrote. In Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet (University of California Press, 2001), she used material culture—embroidered slippers—to reconstruct women’s lives. A later monograph, Cinderella’s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding (University of California Press, 2005), was awarded the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize of the American Historical Association for the best book in women’s history and/or feminist theory in that year. She has also coedited a book with her colleagues Lydia Liu and Rebecca Karl, The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory (Columbia UP, 2013).
Professor Ko won a Guggenheim Fellowship (2000–2002) and an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study (2000–2001) for her research on textiles, fashion, and women’s work. More recently, she was awarded an ACLS fellowship (2012–2013) for her current project on female artisans in China. She served as guest curator for an exhibition, “Shoes in the Lives of Women in Late Imperial China,” at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. At Barnard and Columbia, Professor Ko teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on gender and writing in China; visual and material cultures in China; and the history of the body in East Asia.
Professor Ko received her BA in 1978 and her PhD in 1989 from Stanford University. She joined the Barnard faculty in 2001.
Dorothy Ko, Lydia H. Liu, and Rebecca Karl, editors, The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory (Columbia University Press, 2013).
Dorothy Ko, Cinderella’s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding (University of California Press, 2007).
Dorothy Ko, JaHyun Kim Haboush, and Joan Piggott, editors, Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan (University of California Press, 2003).
Dorothy Ko, Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet (University of California Press, 2001).
Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China (Stanford University Press, 1994).