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Shuye Zhang

MA work

Chinese Silk in Late Victorian Britain 1870–1901: Textile Trade, Consumption and Cultural Identity

For thousands of years, silk was treated as a luxury in the global trade, where it played a role in promoting exchange and learning between East and West in terms of production, techniques, patterns, designs and creative values. As simply the secretion from the mouth of a moth caterpillar, this natural product was so valued and appreciated that methods of production were secretly and jealously guarded, remaining unchanged for thousands of years. People still marvel at the two kilometres of silk thread drawn from just one silk cocoon.

The exporting of Chinese silk to Britain in the Victorian period has been very under-researched. Following the basic theme of ‘China in Britain’, this dissertation aims to study the exporting of Chinese silk to late Victorian Britain, to examine how Chinese silk as a material product was understood and incorporated into British Victorian social and private life. Taking Chinese sericulture and its silk manufacturing industry as a context, it will discuss the categories and characteristics of Chinese exported silk from a material perspective, to answer the question of what Chinese exported silk was in late Victorian Britain. Then it will investigate the promotion and consumption of Victorian Chinese silk, to see how meaning and value was created, and how ‘Chineseness’ in Chinese silk was established from a conceptual perspective. 

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Arts & Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2019

  • Shuye Zhang is a design historian interested in sericulture and textile industry, trade history, transnational fashion, women's consumption culture, identity, crafts, ethnicity and museology. With a background of Archaeology and Museology at Peking University, her research is strongly material-based. Her MA dissertation aims to study the exporting of Chinese silk to late Victorian Britain, to examine how Chinese silk as a material product was understood and incorporated into British Victorian social and private life.

  • Degrees

  • BA Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, 2017
  • Experience

  • Internship, Assistant Editor, Chinese Social Media Project, British Museum, London, 2018–19; Internship, Collections Placement, Asian Stores Decant Project, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2018–19; Internship, Cataloguer, Book Cataloguing Project, Asian Department, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2018
  • Exhibitions

  • Chief Curator, Memories of Yan Yuan, Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology, Beijing, 2016; Chief Curator, Weiming Ci, Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology, Beijing, 2017; Exhibition Interpretation Placement, Gods and Heroes: Western Artists and the Classical Tradition, Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology, Beijing, 2016; Exhibition Research Placement, Exploring Beijing’s City Walls and Moats in History, Capital Museum, Beijing, 2015
  • Conferences

  • Chinese Silk in Late Victorian Britain, Cultural Diversity Panel Discussion, RCA Chinese Students and Scholars Association, 8 February 2019; Chinese Silk in Late Victorian Britain 1870–1901: Textile Trade, Consumption and Cultural Identity, History of Design Symposium 2018, V&A/RCA History of Design, 11 December 2018
  • Publications

  • Zhang, S (forthcoming). Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, Museum Review 2, Shanghai: Shanghai Lexicographic Publishing House, 2019; Zhang, S (forthcoming). An Interview with the Curators of You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970, Beyond Viewing: 13 Exhibitions' Reflection and Dialogue, Beijing: Cultural Relics Press, 2019; (Forthcoming) Embroiderers, ed. by Wei Li, Beijing: POSTS & TELECOM PRESS Co., LTD, 2019